• Quest Friends!

Ep. 36: Crime and Courtship, Part 1

Updated: May 19, 2019

The storm returns.

Listen as our heroes:

Color their enemies!

Take the stairway to heaven!

Discover a traitor!

TRANSCRIPT (Downloadable Version):

Previously on Quest Friends...

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

Tom (as Xoc)

So what is it? The cloud thing that we woke up.

Kyle (as Mauve)

It's bad news, more or less. It's called the Apocrita. It appeared forty years ago, and it consumed everything it ran across.

Kyle (as Mako)

Oh, Xoc. Uh, you haven't been having sort of any weird side effects or encountering anything weird, since you've woken up, have you?

Ari

[Laughter.]

Tom (as Xoc)

[Startled -- sounding the way a deer caught in headlights might look.] Nooooo?

Tom

And then Xoc will stand up again, face Loell, and say,

Tom (as Xoc)

[Sternly.] You've been here all day and you still haven't answered my question. Why are you here? What do you want with me? [More insistent now.] Why are you in my head?

[Opening theme intensifies.]

Kyle

[Exuberantly.] Hello, and welcome to Quest Friends. I sound way too, ah, way too like an announcer.

[A little more reserved.] Hello. Welcome to Quest Friends. I am Kyle, your GM, I use he/him pronouns and I play everybody in this, uh, universe of Numenera. This is a role-playing podcast where I'm going to help lead our four heroes through an adventure and they're going to quickly introduce themselves and their characters now before I do a recap of the story.

If you've already been listening for a while and you want to just jump straight to the next part of the story, you can jump to... [Pauses.] Seven minutes, but for anyone else who's new who wants a recap, here is who we are and what we've been up to.

[Opening theme, “Friends” by Miracle of Sound, begins to play quietly in the background.]

Emily

I'm Emily Strawn, I use she/her pronouns, and I play Elee Badge, who also uses she/her pronouns.

Kyle

And can you explain Elee Badge in one sentence?

Emily

Um...Wolverine eighty year old woman who fights with a folding chair. That was not an actual sentence. I'm sorry.

Kyle

[Laughing.]

Emily

[Crosstalking over Kyle's laughter.] It was grammatically incorrect.

Kyle

[Still laughing.] All right, Hallie.

Hallie

Hi, I'm Hallie Koontz. My pronouns are she/her, I play Hopper Scotch. Hopper's pronouns are he/him. Hopper can best be summed up as vigilante accountant, current status: heartbroken.

Kyle and Emily

[Laughter.]

That's all you need to know about my boy.

Kyle

[More laughter.]

Hallie

Going into this arc.

Kyle

Ari!

Ari

Alright! I'm Ari Tena, I use she/her pronouns, and I play Misha, who uses they/them pronouns, and they are an android that only remembers the past month and a couple of...days...or however long this adventure has begun, of their life. So, they're cute. I guess.

Tom

[Laughter.]

Kyle

They also... [Mysteriously.] Have done a murder.

Ari

[A little sheepishly.] They did that!

Hallie

[Dryly.] Have done a murder.

Ari

They have done a murder.

Kyle

Unlike Elee, it wasn't an intentional murder.

Hallie

No.

Emily

[Laughing.] Elee's done, like, a lot of intentional murders.

Kyle

And then Tom who uh, who is your wonderful, wonderful boy?

Tom

I am Tom, and I use he/him pronouns, and I am playing Xoc, who also uses he/him pronouns. And Xoc is a sweet adorable science wizard, and possible magical kiss boy, who can say, in this in this upcoming arc.

Kyle

If you want the full comprehensive history of our story so far, last week, I should have put out a video and/or podcast probably titled "Quest Friends: The Story So Far" that covers in detail, everything that's happened, and everything you might need to know. If you don't want to listen to that though, and you just want to get in, I am going to cover the rules, so for each new arc, as a rule comes up, I'm going to re-explain how it works. The basics you need to just know right now is that when a player wants to do something, they roll a dice. One through twenty. Higher numbers means higher chance of success. And then I'm also going to go through the story so far, accompanied by the elevator music that I always use. So.

[The elevator music begins -- smooth jazz, a chill but cheerful tune.]

Our story takes place in The Ninth World. The Ninth World happens after eight apocalypses, it's one billion years in the future. Things are...weird. We're kind of in the pseudo like, Avatar The Last Airbender technology era, medieval technology era world, except everything is kind of augmented by, by machines and by technology. I think the best example I can think of is, if anyone's watched the new She-Ra, how it's like kind of technological but also kind of like fantasy. It's kind of like that, except we don't have first ones. We have...eight ones.

[Kyle pauses, uncertain of what he said; quiet chuckling from the party in the background.]

There eight worlds, not just one.

All

[Laughter.]

Kyle

We have our four heroes, they get tasked by...they get sent on a task, which they accidentally release a giant cloud of black tiles and spiders. And inside of it, there's this big hulking dude in, like, Viking helmet, the fake Viking helmet, his armor is really scary. He's got a big ol' warhammer, and they get out of there and basically the cloud just ups and gets up, and then leaves.

Our heroes find out later that the spiders in these clouds will essentially paralyze and take the memories from any of their victims, killing the victims in the process. They figure that out because the person who sent them on their job, named Sue, dies. Sh-he's dead now.

[00:05:00]

She is a member of the Heroes of Navarene, which is comprised of her, uh, Mauve, Mako, the Professor, and a guy named Aegon Stormbreaker, who was the big spooky dude in the cloud. Who, at this point, everyone had thought had defeated it. They thought he had beat it.

Turns out he didn't—oops—and worst off, our beautiful kiss boy, Xoc, gets bitten by one of the spiders he starts having visions and he definitely starts dying. So our party goes and seeks out the heroes. They find Mauve, they find Mako. Mako eventually heals Xoc even though he almost dies, and then Xoc start seeing a boy named Loell. Loell is from a long, long time ago, and only Xoc can see him, and it's a little weird.

During this time, our heroes then get contacted by Hopper Scotch's former rival Lorraine Stiles--

Hallie

[Quiet exhale.]

Kyle

--who puts them on a mission, which is secretly a setup. After Hop had failed in the past with Lorraine, she basically had one final test for him to prove that he was a worthy adversary...and he failed spectacularly. So he, he got dumped by his archrival and maybe girlfriend? They were never a thing, but that like—

Hallie

[High, long, uncertain noise.]

Kyle

[Crosstalking.] Emotional heartbreak is still there.

Hallie

[Still making the pained noise initially, and then abruptly stopping.] No comment.

Kyle and Emily

[Laughing.]

Kyle

So that's where we are at this point. Aegon and the cloud of spiders called the Apocrita are still at large. There is a group called The Jagged Dream, which is aiming to basically just steal the life energy of lots of people to do some terrible thing on an air ship Titanic, and so our heroes kind of have to deal with both of those things.

Was there anything I missed there, because I realized I forgot The Jagged Dream til the last second.

Hallie

[Laughing.]

Tom

[Laughing.] It's fine, we could record—we could do it over, it's fine.

Kyle

Yeah, there's, there's gonna be a lot of names. I'm gonna try to keep, keep it approachable. But again, if you ever get confused, I would highly encourage you to either check out "The Story So Far" or on our website QuestFriendsPodcast.com, I have summaries of every single episode and recommended starting points. If you're like, "well, well, I want to understand what's going on," they'll tell you where to jump in if you want to understand things.

[00:07:00 Starting point for anyone who wanted to skip the summary.]

All right, we good, we ready to actually start this game?

[The sound of wagon wheels on a dirt road in the background.]

So right now you are all leaving Roulettia. You're in Mauve's covered wagon. I'm going to jump straight into a scene in a second. But before we start there, kind of where are you in the wagon? What are you going to be up to over the course of this, uh, this drive.

Hallie

Hop, who left his hat in Roulettia and is now hatless, is leaning against the back wall of the wagon, just lazily looking out at the fading lights of Roulettia as they drive away. He's clearly not all there. He's very zoned out.

Emily

Elee might, like, cast the occasional look over at Hop, and be like, [Slightly strained.] This is weird, but I don't know how to fix this. Um, but she's probably going to be outwardly patiently tolerating Soe's attempts to bond.

Hallie

[Chuckles.]

Kyle

Soe's Elee's daughter and she is absolutely, like, just showing all of her books, all of her novels.

Emily

[Amused.] All of her YA novels.

Kyle

She loves her YA novels!

Uh, Ari, what is Misha up to?

Ari

Uh, Misha is sitting at the back of the wagon as well. They also are reflecting upon a bunch of different things that happened in the past couple of episodes, but occasionally they are going to cast a glance at Hop as well, because they, they don't get that much what's going on, but they do notice that something looks different besides him not having a hat.

[The distant, driving noise fades away.]

Kyle

Alright, and then Tom, what is Xoc up to?

Tom

Xoc is...I guess joining the entire party in occasionally like looking back at Hopper to see, oh, is he okay, is he alright? Xoc is also actually going to be sort of out of it too, he's going to be at a different part of the—we're on the wagon boat, right?

Kyle

Yeah, you're on a covered wagon boat.

Tom

He's going to be on a different part of the wagon boat also, like, looking at the trees and grass as they, as they go by, mildly lost in thought.

Ari

So we're lost in thought.

Kyle

[Laughing.]

Ari

Other than I guess Elee.

Tom

[Wryly.] Lost in thought, all alone.

Kyle

You're all lost—

Emily

[Laughing a little.] She wishes, wishes she was sitting alone.

Kyle

[A little surprised.] Aw!

Emily

No she doesn't, she loves--she loves Soe. It's just that quiet time is also nice sometimes.

Kyle

[Laughing.] Alright, in that case, I will start with my opening introduction. So.

Everything's quiet. It's only been a few minutes since you left the relentless cacophony of Roulettia, but as you weave through the trees surrounding the city, it feels as if you're worlds away. It's a nice quiet, a contemplative quiet. It's a quiet that is well-deserved and well-welcomed.

And in this moment of rest, Xoc, you turn your head around from the outside lights, around from Soe talking excitedly to her mother, away from a forlorn Hopper Scotch, and you see Loell, leaning at the back of the wagon. His shoulders are slumped in exhaustion, but he still keeps his head pointed towards the sky.

Tom

Xoc will, like,

[00:10:00]

shift over to where Loell is, and just without really looking at him just say,

Tom (as Xoc)

[Slowly, uncertain.] Y-you...you okay?

Kyle

He keeps his head up, but responds to you like,

Kyle (as Loell)

[Wry laughter.] It's um, it's funny. It's, uh...because I'm, I guess, connected to you, I can't really see past a few feet. Everything past that is blurry, but...

Kyle

And he looks up further to the sky and sighs.

Kyle (as Loell)

I don't know. It's nice to imagine, anyway. You know, you scared me, Xoc, you, you scared me real hard in, in Roulettia. I don't...I don't know what I could have done to help you. I mean I, I, I came in and pushed you out of the way, and you still took a pretty bad hit. Like...I don't know.

Tom (as Xoc)

[A little melancholy and sheepish.] I...I think I should apologize, because this life is what we do.

Tom

And he sort of gestures around to the rest of the party.

Tom (as Xoc)

That's...I guess what we do now. We fight people, we, we take risks, we save people, but you're...you're...you don't get a choice in that. You're stuck with me. So when I...when I risk my own life, I'm risking yours too. And it's...I guess it's not fair. I wish I could do something to help you.

Kyle (as Loell)

[Resigned but trying to be reassuring.] No, I, I, I get it. I, I mean, it's not...it's not that, it's just...how long have you been doing this kind of stuff?

Tom (as Xoc)

Well, I've been on the road for about a year now. I met up with everyone else here not long ago.

[Pausing, thoughtful.] Uhhh...I don't think it's been much more than a week.

Kyle (as Loell)

[Surprised.] A week? A week, man. I've been...decades. I've gotta have been gone for decades. If that much can change in one week, what else could have...

Kyle

And he takes a look, and he kind of looks at the rest of the wagon.

Kyle (as Loell)

[More distressed.] What else could have happened in that time? How many people...how many people could have gotten hurt, how much stuff...how much could things have changed? You know, without me there to help them? I'm here to help you now, but like...

Tom (as Xoc)

I don't know what's happened to your home since...whatever happened. But if it's still there, we can find it again, right? We can always try to take you back home.

Kyle (as Loell)

Man, you saw what happened to Roulettia in a day. There's...I dunno, I don't think that place is there any more.

[Soft, hopeful music with a soothing guitar and gentle chime begins to play.]

Tom (as Xoc)

I guess I'm just used to places not changing. I don't know if I ever really mentioned much, but I grew up in a place called the Weal of Baz. It's kind of like, uh, a sanctuary for machines. Any kind of machine life can go there and have a home. Horace...he's, I guess he's kind of like a scout and the scavenger for the Weal? He found me, out in the wastes surrounding the Weal, and they brought me back! Because I've got something in my head that lets me link up with other machines. And they raised me, and I spent my whole life there.

The same people, the same places, um, nothing really changed until...until I decided to start traveling.

Kyle

He just kind of nods his head a little bit and says,

Kyle (as Loell)

[Surprised and impressed.] Dude, so you are a machine?

[With a final chime, the music stops.]

Tom (as Xoc)

[Not bothered, exactly, but surprised, as if Loell should have known.] Yeah! I'm yeah, I'm a machine.

Kyle

He gives you, like, a weird look, and he just kind of like looks at your skin a little bit, and just, uh, does a pinch and he's like,

Kyle (as Loell)

[A little dry, like Xoc might be joking with him.] Well, what's this? Come on, you got all this fleshy stuff.

Tom (as Xoc)

Well, yeah, I'm...I guess I'm technically a human, but I'm...I'm a machine. I lived with machines, I can speak to machines.

Tom

And he, like, swings open the hatch in the side of his head and says,

Tom (as Xoc)

[Brightly.] Look! I've got, I've got metal in me too.

Kyle (as Loell)

[Teasing good-naturedly.] Still gross. Poetically gross, but still...

Tom (as Xoc)

[Amused.] Yeah, yeah, whatever, whatever.

Kyle (as Loell)

I get what you're saying, yeah. For all the things that change, it's ultimately...

Kyle

And he points to his head.

Kyle (as Loell)

It's all up here that matters.

Tom (as Xoc)

[Thoughtful.] Yeah, I...yeah.

Kyle (as Loell)

Whatever. I just gotta think about it. What's that trinket you got there?

Kyle

And he points to the locket.

Tom (as Xoc)

Oh! This? Well, see, I, well...I had...I had a lot of books when I was growing up in the Weal, and that was...that was... Well, Horace said it was important for me to learn about humans, so I had stories. And in one of them, there was a locket! And the hero put a picture of the people important to them in the locket, and it kept him going when times were tough. So I thought, that would be nice, to have something like that

Kyle (as Loell)

Like, like uh, like a picture of your friends?

Tom (as Xoc)

[A little flustered, his voice higher for a moment.] Yeah. Yeah, sure.

Kyle

And the shoulders un-slump.

Kyle (as Loell)

[Suddenly exuberant.] Man, that's so cool! Because like, you know, I mean, I was just talking about how it's up here, but like, in there, in photo too, like that's...no, what a great way of keeping a memory alive! In fact, let me, um, it's probably a little bit outdated now, but I was a little bit into photography, uh, when I was, you know, not air. When I was...when I was, uh, a flesh boy. [Trails off into laughter.]

I'm sorry, the, in seeing the flesh and mechanic thing in your head is just...I'm thinking about flesh a lot. I'm real sorry.

[The sound of wheels churning up the drit picks up in the background, a low soothing rumble.]

Um, but no, I know, uh, I know really good spot.

Kyle (as Mauve)

Yeah, so that's the

[00:15:00]

Professor. She didn't really have a spot on our team, she was just kind of the general insider connection. But not only is she supposed to be having a professorship on the Prodigious, she's also been studying the ruins of the Apocrita. If there's anyone who knows what our next steps are going to be, it's gonna be her.

Kyle

Elee. You've gotten a bit of reprieve from, uh, Soe's excited talking. Everett has picked up a book and now Soe's recounting the entire plot to him in an attempt to not be spoilery, but she's absolutely spoiling everything.

Emily

[Delighted.] I love her!

Kyle

Q-BO is actually sitting dutifully next to, uh, next to Mauve and helping give her instructions on, on where to go. And Mauve has started talking to you in that break, kind of giving you a rundown of the Professor, the last Hero of Navarene that you have not met yet. And she's I handed you—and in fact, you're kind of looking at the picture of the Heroes of Navarene, which Hop has a copy of. And they just seem to be handing them out like pamphlets at this point. And she says,

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Laughing a little.] Now she's got her quirks, she can basically read minds. Uh, and she's not afraid to let you know what she finds...but it's easy enough to get in her good graces, you know. Strawnberry cake? She absolutely loves that.

[Laughs again.] You come at her with a slice, she'll be talking to you all day...more than maybe even you want her to.

[A whimsical but slightly haunting tune begins to play in the background; it sounds like something a music box might play, but a little off.]

Kyle

And as she's talking, you're taking a look at this photo of the Heroes of Navarene, which she's handed to you. And you can see in front of this giant Xi-drake, which is basically a dragon, 9th World dragon with a fin on its head. You see this elderly woman in kind of like a lab coat or a trench coat? And she's just staring at the camera with this like, otherworldly curiosity. And you could...hearing that she could maybe read minds is a little unsettling, because it almost feels like she's looking through the picture into your heart.

Emily

I look at the picture and, like, turn it one way, and then turn it the other way, and look over at Mauve and say,

Emily (as Elee)

[A little suspicious.] You ever notice it's kind of like her eyes follow you?

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Laughing.] Elee, you get used to that after a while. I mean, at this point I just feel like her eyes are on me all the time.

Emily (as Elee)

[Audibly unsettled.] That sounds horrifying.

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Surprisingly matter-of-fact.] Oh no, it's, it's terrifying. It's spooky, but I swear she's a good woman. Alright? She just, ah... [A pause.] She's curious.

Emily (as Elee)

When was the last time you talked? Can you get in contact with her?

Kyle (as Mauve)

Oh, yeah, of course. That's what uh, what Mako is up to. In fact, these pins—

Kyle

And she shows you the Mauve and Mako pin which is, uh, what's used for telekinetic thought.

Kyle (as Mauve)

Actually, the, the kind of threads that are used to bind these things together was reverse engineered from her, uh, nano abilities. So no, we have a, we have a direct line to her. I just, you know, I don't want to plug up her mind. She's probably very busy, and you know Mako's those been busy with that.

Emily (as Elee)

Again, horrifying.

Kyle (as Mauve)

[With a laugh.] Yeah, I suppose so.

[A drum begins to beat in the background—slow and steady, accompanied by the slow rising whistle of the wind.]

[Perplexed, but still cheery.] Hey, Elee Badge, you ever notice that it's a little bit darker than I thought it'd be at this time. You hear rain?

Emily (as Elee)

[Full of dread.] Oh, no.

[The drum begins to beat faster.]

Kyle

But it's not rain.

Because rain doesn't crawl.

Rain doesn't scrape, and screech, and scratch—and rain is not the pitch black of a spider.

[The music intensifies, an eerie melody beginning to play over the drum, the Apocrita’s theme.]

And as your vehicle makes its way out of the treetops into the fields of Navarene, you turn to see, high in the sky behind you, a violently convulsing mass of black wind. It is a cloud, and yet it is not. It is the storm itself, distilled into a relentless mass of spider and stone. All of you turn behind, and you see the Apocrita.

And I need you all the roll initiative.

Tom

[Pained, anxious groan.]

Hallie

[Dice roll.] Kyle, I got a two.

[Dice roll.] About what I could hope for

Ari

16.

Tom

I also got a 16!

Ari

[Delighted.] Ohhh!

[The music fades out.]

Emily

13.

Ari

Hey-hey!

Kyle

Okay. So, since more than half of you've rolled above 10, you're going to get a free action before you start this combat. Because this is not a regular combat. So, initiative usually is used to track everyone in order? But in this case, there are just two opponents: there is your car, and there is this cloud, the Apocrita, which is raining spiders behind you.

[Dramatic, quick string music begins to play.]

This is a chase. There are five degrees of separation. You're going to start at three. If you reach one, the Apocrita has caught up to you and you will be consumed by spiders. If you reach five, you'll have gotten away successfully. Each turn, you will have three actions you can make to get away, and the Apocrita will have three actions it can take to follow you. Mauve will automatically be driving. And in fact, she immediately says,

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Intense but surprisingly calm.] Alright everybody, I'd tell you the buckle up but there aren't any buckles and we gotta go now!

Kyle

And so you are going to get a free action you can take now to, uh, try to propel your car fast to get away from the Apocrita. And these three actions are shared between all of you, so, uh, not all of you will get to do something on a turn. I just want to make sure this is snappy.

Tom

[Distressed.] Oh God

Ari

Misha has a new ability called Matter Cloud, which basically, they can lift, like, pebbles and debris around them in a cloud, and then, uh,

[00:20:00]

that can make creatures...harder for other creatures to attack. And what I would like to potentially do, if I do that, is to expend, potentially spend an XP point, or, or more, to make it not only surround Misha, but surround the wagon, so that it kind of has a protective cloud so that it's a little bit harder for the, for the thing to, uh, to attack us, if we have that.

Kyle

[Wryly.] Alright, so you're gonna fight a cloud...with a different cloud.

Ari

Well I wouldn't fight it! I would, well, it potentially will serve as a protective thing.

Tom

I really like that idea, actually.

Hallie

[Emphatically.] It's a good plan.

Emily

Great idea.

Kyle

Couple of things for listeners, ciphers—one use items and XP.

[The string music fades.]

It's experience, which I will grant, and you can basically use it to make yourself stronker. So, Misha.

[A harder driving rock song picks up instead, with a more intense beat and heavy drums.]

You see this cloud of spiders and you know the best way to fight fire? Is with fire. Or in this case, the best way to fight a cloud is with a different, smaller could. So describe what you do.

Ari

Alright, so, uh, Misha is basically...so they were sitting at the back of the wagon, closer...they could see the dirt behind them as they were leaving? So they are basically gonna kind of harness the dirt that's already going up from the wagon moving to make it go up a little bit more? They're going to focus really hard on just keeping that up and continuing doing it.

And since it's the first time that they would do it, they would not really realize that they themselves are doing it until it's like halfway through it happening? And then they are going to use that to have the dirt surround the whole, or at least part of, the wagon, at least the back part if they can't do the whole thing. And yeah. Uh, I have a question.

Kyle

Yes.

[The music fades.]

Ari

Well, I have two questions for this. One is that the description of this thing says that it's—the cloud is around me. So do I spend an XP to make it be around the wagon? And the second thing is that, would it, would it still rule that I could potentially use this to attack the cloud if possible?

Hallie

[Laughter.]

Because I say, it says that I use it—I can spend an action to whip the material that I've raised. It raised everything within in immediate range of this.

Kyle

Um, I'm gonna say you can hold that attack action.

Ari

Okay.

Kyle

And then, yes, spend an XP because otherwise that also may—I think it's just because it's a lot bigger?

Ari

Yeah.

Kyle

I think it'll be like, we're enveloping the whole thing, because otherwise you're all going to fight in a mess of rocks and that's probably going to make it harder for you to fight things.

Ari

Yeah. And then one thing is that I guess to maintain it, Misha will have to be focused on that, on that part, and they're going to be at the edge of the wagon trying to keep that thing up.

Kyle

Okay, cool. Yes, it all, it all flies up. You see a couple—we get a close-up as some drit, which is Ninth World dirt, uh, flies up. We get a little view of a couple of really distressed ants trying to climb up the side.

Ari

[Distraught.] Oh no! Nooo!

Kyle

You see Gregory fall off.

Kyle (as Gregory)

Nooooo!

Kyle

[Laughing.] It's a very dramatic scene.

Ari

If Misha notices, they will be like,

Ari (as Misha)

I apologize, ants!

Emily

[Laughter.]

Tom

[Reassuring.] They're ants though, they can survive falls from high places.

Kyle

Don't worry. They're Antz, spelled with a z, and as we all know Woody Allen is terrible.

Hallie

[Laughing.]

Kyle

So ultimately, it's good

Tom

[Amused.] Oh, no, oh nooo.

Ari

That movie's so bad!

Kyle

[Laughing.]

Ari

I have lot of feelings about that movie.

Kyle

Oh, um, so yeah as that happens, so then the Apocrita takes its turn.

[A slower but no less intense song begins in the background, the steady thrum of a harp and a haunting, high piano melody.]

And it does three things. The first thing you hear is a hailstorm, and the Apocrita, you can tell, is throwing shards of obsidian tiles at you. The spiders are too light. They can't be thrown, like, they can only be dropped, but the shards can be thrown down at the at the wagon. So you hear them getting knocked off by Misha's shield, but they ult--they would have shredded through the wagon if Misha had not put up that shield.

Seeing that doesn't work, you hear some hard thuds, and through the rocks you can see obsidian soldiers, which look like round automatons with vines connecting their arms just like Mauve had described about a day ago. And finally, you hear a crash of thunder and you see in the distance that a large shard of obsidian had fallen onto the ground like a lightning bolt, and exploded, releasing a mass of spiders that are now rapidly chasing you.

[The music hits a few intense final chords and fades.]

So Misha's protection stopped the hailstorm, the soldiers, which there are handful, are still chasing you and gaining speed. They're a horde, so just any attack on them will count as an attack, and then finally there seems to be a little swarm of spiders as well that is catching up and wanting to get on. Misha since you prepped the thing for an attack, I will say that you're able to attack one of the soldiers. So give me a roll to do that.

Ari

Okay. [Dice roll.] Ten.

Kyle

A ten.

Ari

Yeahhh.

Kyle

The dirt shoots out, and you just see the uh, soldier, the glass soldier, just knock it away.

Ari

Oh, no.

Kyle

As if it was nothing.

Ari

Oh, no.

Kyle

And then two spiders fly off and hit the camera, and it's very funny, because we need a little bit of com—comedic relief in this hellscape.

Tom

[Exasperated.] Jesus Christ.

Kyle

Um, so now it is your turn. You have three actions you can take. You've got a bunch of angry Apocrita

[00:25:00]

soldiers, and then you've also got, uh, the spiders the little mass of spiders.

Tom

I have...I have an idea to do an action if people are okay with it.

Hallie

[Encouragingly.] Yeah.

Tom

Alright.

[Quiet, haunting music begins, intensifying as Tom describes the spell.]

Alright, so Xoc also gained a new spell with the last level up, and that is called Construction. And I'm not certain how relevant this exact idea will be, because I don't...I don't know how flat or hilly this area is?

Kyle

It's plains. It's pretty flat.

Tom

Okay, so it's pretty flat but what if...

All

[Laughter.]

Tom

What if it wasn't?

All

[Louder laughter.]

For the sake of fun.

Kyle

[Sarcastically.] For the sake of fun? Wow, really guilting me there.

Tom

[Panicked.] No, no, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, actually. No, shoot. I don't want to, I don't want to ruin what, hmm.

Kyle

What do you want to do.

Tom

No.

Kyle

What do you want to do?

Tom

I'm wondering if this might be better saved for later, because I don't want to like introduce any sort of like chasm or gap to cross at this point in time.

Kyle

Just go.

Tom

Okay.

Kyle

Just go.

Tom

Alright, what if maybe...maybe Mauve is like navigating obstacles? Like maybe Mauve can't go on a direct straight line for some reason, but what if indeed, we had a bridge that we could build across, like, just like, to arc across from like hill to hill, or like over a river or, or in other ways, just like building a more direct path for us out of here. It could even be a ramp if we wanted to just Dukes of Hazzard this.

Kyle

[The music fades out.]

So it is a plain, but a ramp is exactly my idea.

Tom

Okay. I was—I had a feeling.

Kyle

[A little sarcastic.] What if you Dukes of Hazzard over absolutely nothing? If you just went into the air because fuck it! [More enthusiastically.] But I think that'll be great. Someone try to think of how to combo onto this.

Tom

[Strained, a little panicked.] In video games, you build up speed in the air? Someone help me out.

[More relaxed.] Look. Alright, whatever. Xoc is using his new spell, Construction. You build a structure from nonliving materials drawn from your environment within long range. When the structure appears, it draws up rocks, drit, scrap metal, and anything else around you to become what you wish it to become. You might create a bridge across a chasm or a shelter where you and your companions can rest. It can be any shape I choose, and big enough to accommodate up to one hundred people. If I make a building I can make chambers, blah blah blah.

Uhhh, when you use Construction, it takes ten minutes for a structure to finish taking shape—did not read that bit.

Hallie

[Chuckles.]

Tom

What if I'm just laying track in front of us as we go?

Kyle

I will let you do it, but you will be laying track as you do it, and eventually flying off will absolutely not be your choice. So yeah, describe how the structure gets built.

Tom

All right. So so Misha is there, Earthbending this, this cloud of dust and rock around us, lashing it out

[Mysterious, almost choir-like music begins to play.]

Xoc stands up next to Misha, badass wizard, just like slams down the staff. And all of a sudden, there's this shudder from the earth as all of a sudden like earth and rocks from beneath just begin to, like, build up right in front of the boat, just creating this ramp that is frantically, like, pulling material into existence as the boat ramps up along it.

Kyle

All right. So you are you're going up this ramp.

[The music fades.]

You have about one turn's length of time until it's not keeping up with you. You have two more actions.

Emily

So I—since we are all introducing our new skills— [Trails into laughter.]

Kyle

I know, it's a great showcase. I fucking love it honestly,

Emily

So I have two new enablers, uh.

Kyle

Enablers are things you don't have to do, they just are. And these are most of Elee's abilities, because Emily made a broken fighter.

Emily

[A little sheepish.] Sorry. [With a laugh.] I'm not that sorry, actually.

Kyle

[Laughing.]

Emily

First of all, as my new focus ability I can apply the effect of a cypher or artifact to my body as a free action? And then when I perform appropriate action with my body, the effect of the cypher or artifact will attempt to take place as well.

Kyle

Okay.

Emily

So if we have any particularly destructive cyphers...

Hallie

I have one cypher. I have several cyphers, but I have one cypher that is the frame with the paper and crayon that just says only touch crayon to paper when ready. I do not know what this will do, but probably something.

Tom

[Excited.] Oh my God. Yes.

Kyle

Alright. Roleplay out how you get that on, and then describe what you do with it.

Hallie

Alright. First of all, also—Hopper also has an enabler. It's his defend the innocent thing. I'm gonna argue that everyone is in a wagon, so that's all immediate range. So you all have defense stuff.

Kyle

Is that a free action?

Hallie

It is.

Kyle

[Exasperated but amused.] I fucking hate all of you.

All

[Laughter.]

Kyle

This is supposed to be intense.

Hallie

Oh, no, it's act—wait, that's find the guilty. I'm looking at the wrong thing. Defend the innocent. Oh, it's an action to initiate, never mind. Well, can I—can I do that as an action to, like, initiate like I'm designating everyone as innocent, and I'm—and Hopper physically is like stealing himself with his little shield to do anything should anyone get onto the boat?

Kyle

Okay.

Emily

So is that one of our three actions?

Kyle

That's one of your three. So dirt.

Hallie

Okay.

Kyle

Misha has a cloud. Xoc has made a ramp. Hop has turned around and yelled to everyone, you're all innocent!

[00:30:00]

All

[Laughter.]

Hallie

No!

Kyle

Every one of you, innocent! And then Elee—

Hallie

If that's the third action. I don't want to take it up.

Kyle

No. No, I think, I think it's fine. And then Elee, because remember this is supposed to be a quick combat. So Elee, your thing.

Emily

Okay, I try to, in a garbled mess, explain to them that...

Emily (as Elee)

I need a cypher and I'm going to use it to make me stronger.

Kyle

Okay.

Emily (as Elee)

Who has a weird one?

Hallie

Hopper just rips into his, into his backpack and throws out the weird crayon and paper and says,

Hallie (as Hopper)

I don't know what this does! Try this one!

Hallie and Emily

[Laughter.]

Emily

And it says only touch crayon to paper when ready?

Hallie

Yes.

Emily

Okay, so I want to stick the crayon on to one of my spikes. Okay.

Kyle

Wolverine claws.

Emily

Yeah, my Wolverine claws .And then I want to hold the paper up in front of me facing both of the soldiers and then I want to punch through it.

All

[Laughter.]

Emily

And shoot out my claws.

Kyle

And what—how does the cypher?

Emily

The, it's—the crayon's touching the paper! Oh, I have to explain how the cypher works.

Kyle

Yeah, unless you want me to develop something?

Emily

[Mischievously.] I think Hallie should explain it because it's her cypher.

Hallie

That's literally all I have though, just touch frame.

Kyle

That's, that's the idea, is that you are all creative and open participants in the storytelling!

Hallie

Oh, we, we get to—

Kyle

In this collaborative storytelling experience!

Tom

[In mock disgust.] How dare you put responsibility on us.

Hallie

Yeah. I thought you were just gonna do something that—

Kyle

Meanwhile, Ari is out there being like, I got a million uses for this Clippy! The rest of you motherf—the rest of you catch up!

Ari

[Laughter.]

Hallie

I didn't, well, Clippy explicitly states that you asked it to do a thing! Framed paper and crayon just says...a thing happens

Ari

Just shoot a rainbow, a rainbow beam at the—

Tom

I'm kind of hoping it just explodes when you touch the, the crayon to the paper.

Kyle

I will say the rainbow beam can happen, but only if the song Rainbow Connection plays.

Emily

No.

Kyle and Ari

[Singing together—Hallie, reluctantly.] Rainbow Connection.

Ari

I mean a crayon has colors, right, it could, it could...

Emily

Do I need to roll to attack?

Kyle

No, I, I, cyphers, I think are just...cyphers just work because it's kind of boring otherwise.

Emily

Okay.

Hallie

How would people feel about just a flamethrower that just burns everything behind us?

All

[Laughter.]

Emily

Yeah!

Hallie

As we rush forward—

Tom

I love it.

Hallie

But that also propels us forward, jetpack style.

Emily

Yeah!

Hallie

Up this ramp that Xoc has been building.

Emily

[Excited.] Yes.

Tom

[Simultaneously with Emily. Distressed.] Oh God. No.

Hallie

Inside a dust cloud.

Ari

Look at this teamwork.

Tom

[More distressed.] Ohhh no.

Emily

Yes.

Tom

Oh god.

Emily

I love it.

Tom

I'm already not laying track fast enough.

Hallie

Okay, we're gonna do this because it's interesting.

Emily

Yeah.

Kyle

[As a chiptune/MIDI version of "Rainbow Connection" begins playing.]

So, Elee. You reach back, and you punch through it. And a flamethrower does come out, but it is black and white, like ink on paper. And you see the soldiers glisten, but they don't get destroyed, but the spiders behind them absolutely all get fried. And you move faster and faster, and you move from three to four to a five distance away. You are on the verge of escaping. Then you feel a shudder and you hear Mauve say,

Kyle (as Mauve)

["Rainbow Connection" transitions into something folksy, closer to the "Dukes of Hazard" theme.]

We got any more drit back there?

Kyle

And suddenly you feel your rotation go from pointing up, to pointing horizontally, to pointing down, and with a thud the car crashes onto the ground and spirals around. You take a 360 probably, like, five times. And Mauve takes a second and moves forward, but you are now four distance away.

[The "Dukes of Hazard" music intensifies for several seconds, finally trailing off as Kyle begins to speak.]

Kyle

Hello and welcome to Quest Friends, Episode 36, Crime and Courtship Part 1. I am Kyle, your GM, and this is our announcement break, the little segment where I just kind of take a second to let you know that our intro and outro song are Friends and Hitoshio, both by Miracle of Sound. Check out the links to those two songs below.

In addition to being the place where I can credit the music that I need to credit, the announcement break is also a time where I usually just kind of talk to you about the comings and goings, anything that might be useful for you to know concerning the podcast. For example, this week, my call to action is to check out QuestFriendsPodcast.com. Again, that's QuestFriendsPodcast.com. It's just our name, plus the word podcast, plus dot com. Now, I know what you're thinking. Kyle I already found the show. Why should I check out another website for this podcast? I got the podcast right here. I don't need to check another thing for the podcast. I'm listening to the podcast right now. And you are! But you could be reading it too.

Because QuestFriendsPodcast.com includes things like transcripts. It includes things like links to all of the social media that we actually use, and it also has a page called "Episode Summaries" which includes one-to-four sentence summaries of every single episode in the core story. It obviously can't contain all the information from the show, but I try really hard to make sure it contains the

[00:35:00]

bare essentials, the things you really need to know going forward.

Besides that, thank you so much for listening to this episode. Again, this is the start of our new arc. I'm really, really, really excited for it. Our episode was a bit longer this week. Usually they're, like, forty to fifty minutes, but there was just a lot I really wanted to get in this first episode, and I also on a personal level didn't want to end it on combat.

Alright, that's all I've got for you today. Our next regular sized episode, Crime and Courtship Part 2, will be releasing on Monday, May 13th. I will see you then.

[As the "Dukes of Hazard" music picks back up in the background.] I really should stop saying see you. I'm gonna, I'm gonna hear you no, I'm gonna talk to you then, and you're going to hear me.

[The music intensifies for several seconds.]

Kyle

And so the Apocrita takes its turn.

[Eerie music begins to play, a slow, haunting tune that begins with the plucking of strings and soon adds a lilting piano melody.]

The first thing, the soldiers—there are two of them, big and hulking—they burst through Misha's cloud, and Misha, you can take an attack on this as they do it.

Ari

Okay.

[Dice roll.]

[Disappointed.] A nine.

Tom

Oof.

Kyle

They burst through, grab it on the sides, and hold it down, trying to drag you slower. Meanwhile, you can see a bunch of hail shards start shooting towards the car, and if you don't do anything to stop them, they will hit you next turn. Because there's kind of a bigger opening, ah, like they were trying to go through the roof last time, now they're trying to go through the opening back. So the rocks will not completely block them.

Finally see one more figure shoot from the sky. And it slams down into the middle of the boat, and it rises. And you see this kind of ganky figure with what most people would consider exposed veins, but look more like exposed wire, and a cowboy hat, turn over to all of you, and you realize that this is a replica of Robot Gus.

Hallie

[As a quiet gasp.] What?

Kyle

The robot you met in Obsidian Bay who was consumed by the Apocrita.

Hallie

[Disbelieving.] Our neighbor?

Kyle

Yes. Your neighbor Gus is here. And then you remember that he had pistols, and he takes them out, ready to shoot.

Hallie

[Imitating Reaper from “Overwatch”, increasing in intensity.] Die, die, die, die!

All

[Laughter.]

Kyle

Yes, he is ready to use his Ult. So essentially, because this is a chase, they don't take their actions right away. You can either do something to block their actions, or you can just hope you dodge it, because if you don't dodge it you're boned.

Tom

Oh dear.

Hallie

Okay, um, um, clarification on my Defend the Innocent. I can, I can say multiple people are innocent. So everyone can get my protection, but I can apparently only protect one innocent creature at a time.

Kyle

Who's it gonna be?

Hallie

I don't know! The difficulty of speed rolls.

Emily

[Panicked.] My daughter!

Tom

Oh God, Soe's in here!

Emily

Soe's still there!

Hallie

I didn't think—I didn't think of doing a non-PC. But that is a good point. Um...

Kyle

And remember, you can all tell one of your mates—you can tell Soe or Everett or Mauve to do something as an action. Or Q-BO. But again, Q-BO is a basketball that tells you things so, I don't know how Q-BO could help you through it.

Tom

[Laughter.]

Hallie

[Laughing.] Just throw it, just throw the basketball at Gus.

Tom

So we have three pressing concerns. I have an idea for one of them.

Hallie

Okay.

Tom

So my Cutting Light ability isn't just a normal attack. Yeah. It's even more effective when used against immobile, nonliving targets, and it can slice through up to one foot of any material that is level six or less. Ah, would we say that the arms of Apocrita soldiers are nonliving material? And they are stationary, because they're just holding on. Can I just, like, saw through the arms to, like, make them stop holding our wagon?

Kyle

[Sighs.] Describe how you cut the arms off.

Tom

[Ethereal choral music begins to play.]

So Xoc readies his left hand, which, which has the glove that that focuses the Cutting Light. And he stabilizes himself from there, their little, their little dip and spin, and Xoc just sees the soldiers grab on and runs up to the side, and just starts weld—like emits a laser from his left hand.

[Kyle laughs a little in the background.]

And just starts going at it. Like, he's got a welder torch, just cutting through the soldiers' arms.

Kyle

[The music switches to a more whimsical, jazzy song as Kyle speaks in a "blue collar mechanic" type voice.]

All right, another day at the job. Take me a look. Oh! I see this is your issue, uh, the caboose of your vehicle has a couple of undead soldiers attached to it. Just gonna want to cut those off with a laser hand or something like that.

[Kyle switches back to his normal voice.]

Are you trying to hit both of them on them, or just one of them?

Tom

If you will allow me to, to cut both of them off.

Kyle

You will have to roll to successfully cut both of them, because you'll have to do one of them fast.

Tom

I will accept that

[00:40:00]

challenge. Heart of the cards guide me! [Dice roll.]

[Sheepishly.] So out of curiosity what happens if I roll a three?

Emily

[Strained.] It's bad!

Kyle

[Laughing.]

Hallie

Nooo...do you have XP?

Ari

Do you have XP to re-roll?

Tom

No, I burned all of my XP.

All except Kyle

[Distressed noises.]

Ari

Oh my god.

Kyle

[Laughing.] So, the obsidian orb that had its arm connected, you cut straight through the vines, and the soldier just kind of, like, its blank face looks up to you, and it just stands in place. But it looks like it's moving back, because it just plants itself in the ground as the rest of you drive away.

[The music fades out.]

And its arm falls onto the ground, and it splits into a pile of obsidian planes, of obsidian shards.

Tom

Okay.

Kyle

Since it seemed to be made of those layered on top of one another. The car kind of swerves a little bit as this happens, as Mauve readjusts just for the fact that she's now being only held by only one of them, but you are moving.

Ari

Cool. Then yeah, I have two potential things. So one, it's my cypher that I haven't had the chance to use yet, and I want to use it at some point, which is—I call, I wrote it as Dr. Facilier flashlight--

Hallie

[Laughter.]

Ari

--because it's basically a flashlight like, that, like, throws a shadow that can do a thing. It's a one-time use, so I could potentially do that to either get the soldiers away, or try to knock the gun out of Gus's hands.

Emily

Could the shadow protect us from the, from the shards?

Ari

Could it? Because I thought about it.

Tom

That was actually a, the question I was going to ask, is that now that we are moving again, are those shards still going to hit us? Is their aim off or are they...does the Apocrita have aim assist on, is what I'm asking?

Kyle

Uh, the Apocrita definitely has aim assist on. It's not perfect.

Tom

Goddamn it

Kyle

They got it for like fifteen bucks from a bored teenager.

Tom

[Snorts.]

Kyle

So it doesn't work perfectly, it glitches out a lot, but it's not—it's not good enough yet. Like it still, it still could hit you.

Ari

Uhhh, mmmm. Which one do I do though? Because one...I'm gonna try to do this shadow one, to knock the gun out of his hands. Because that might be much more fun, and finally I get, I can get rid of this cypher. It's really cool, but I just...it has been here.

Emily

[Laughter.]

Kyle

Alright, describe how you use— [A spooky voice.] Your friends from the other side. [Regular voice.] To our knock out the guns from his hand.

Ari

[Slinky, mysterious jazz music begins to play.]

Yeah. So I mean, ah, Misha is going to look their eyes on, on, on Gus and then they're going to make a gesture as if they were drawing a gun, but instead of a gun it's going to be this flashlight. And then I'm going to look at it, at him, and and click the little button, which is gonna make a shadow that I assume is just Misha's shadow, if we're making it a Doctor Facilier thing. So we are gonna just shine it on the, on the bottom of, of, of themselves so that they just project their shadow towards Gus, and is just gonna kick the gun in the floor so that it just flies over there.

Kyle

Alright. Are you targeting both guns or one gun?

Ari

One...if I can try and get both, then it's...

Kyle

Yeah, give me a roll to see if you can get both guns.

Ari

Hoo. Okay.

Kyle

I think that one is roll worthy, like going above and beyond.

Ari

Yeah, I think so too. [Dice roll.] Alright, alright, alright, I rolled a 20!

Tom

[Cheering.] Ohhhh!

Ari

I rolled a 20, I rolled a 20!

Hallie

[Dryly.] Of course you did.

Kyle

I'm gonna say you can just take Gus out of commission with that. So.

Ari

Oh my God.

Hallie

Woooo!

Ari

Yes.

Kyle

So more like Shadow Gus...Shard Gus. Should we call him Shard Gus?

Tom

Yeah, sure.

Kyle

Gus was a very important character, so we need to distinguish that this is his clone.

Ari

ShardoGus! Shardogus.

Tom

Not Gus.

Tom and Hallie

[In unison.] Not Gus.

Ari

Not Gus.

Kyle

And then the other one was the Real Gus

Ari

Then just, if it's that, then instead I just want the shadow to like, to kick them from, from underneath instead. Just like—shwoop! And like they won't even expect it, to like, knock him out.

Kyle

Yes. Obsidian Gus bursts into a thousand pieces, some of which get stuck in Everett's hair, but really no one can tell.

Tom

[Shuddering yuck.]

Kyle

Because they're just as black as all of his outfit.

Ari

Gross.

Emily

His glossy obsidian locks.

Hallie and Emily

[Laughing.]

Kyle

Hey, Everett, your hair has gotten a lot shinier lately. And is that a second tuft of hair? Um, now you can notice because it's cut out like that—each plane kind of matches up perfectly with, like, shoulder to shoulder. Kind of like how when you 3D print, you 3D print in layers. Each shard is a layer of him from bottom to top.

Tom

[Intrigued.] Ooh.

Kyle

And it explodes and it all hits the ground.

Emily

Let the record show that Kyle is just incorporating his love for 3D crystal puzzles into this roleplay.

Kyle

[Indignant.] I said 3D printing, thank you very much.

Emily

Yeah!

Kyle

[Firmly.] It is different

Emily

But shiny little glass things that go like, on top--

Kyle

[Interrupting.] Elee, what are you gonna do? What are you gonna do, Elee? Elee? Tell us what you're gonna do.

Emily

Okay. So we've gotten rid of Gus.

[Soft music with a strong bassline begins to play.]

I would like to use my cypher. It's an orb that sends out physical ripples as soft music plays, and there is a dial on it. I would like to use this cypher to blast the shards away.

Kyle

Okay!

Emily

[Cajolingly.] And maybe even spend an

[00:45:00]

XP to make it blast the soldier away too.

Kyle

That XP would make that roll easier, but it would take two to make it strong enough that it would blast him away for sure.

Emily

So I'm just gonna go with the shards.

Kyle

Okay. Do you want to roll to see if you can blast away that other guy too?

Emily

It's fine.

Kyle

Okay. Um, so Elee gets to the back. She has this little box in here.

[Kyle sings a song reminiscent of the jack-in-the-box melody that plays as you turn the crank, and finishes it with a much louder, more emphatic, "BAMP ba-ba-da-dap."]

Uh, and with those last blasts, uh, bamp-ba-ba-da-dap, five bursts of sound shoot out and scatters the shards to the side. And it is now the Apocrita's turn. So...

Emily

As flavor—

Kyle

Yes.

Emily

Can I throw the box at the soldiers? It's not gonna do anything, I'm just mad.

Kyle

[Laughing.] Yes!

Tom

Spike it at him.

Kyle

You just throw it at his head, it just, clunk, hits the ground, spirals away.

[The haunting string and piano music from earlier turns begins to play.]

Alright, you are now four away. You did not successfully stop everything, so you're not completely away, but your boat is starting to vibrate a little more strongly now as this thing is holding on to it. And from the front you hear Mauve, ah, Mauve yell.

Kyle (as Mauve)

Alright gang. We gotta, we gotta hold on for just ten more seconds till I can make it into that ravine

Kyle

And she points forward and you can see a chasm with multiple platforms jutting out inside of it. And I'm going to say since it's only ten seconds, you and the Apocrita are going to get one action each.

So the Apocrita shoots down onto the existing solder, soldier, even more armor, and it grabs onto the boat and plants itself deeply. It's now got, like, different appendages. It basically looks like the Apocrita maybe upgraded this soldier to a fancier version of that soldier that existed.

Tom

Now he's like a Spider Soldier.

Kyle

Yeah now it's like a spider now, and its, like, extra appendages attach onto the ground, and the boat is stopped flat. And you have—

[With a few final pounding chords, the music begins to fade.]

I will say actually you have two actions to get this thing gone so that you can make your final escape.

Tom

Um...

Hallie

Um, Kyle. This is pretty blatantly a machine right?

Kyle

It was a machine.

Hallie

Okay.

Kyle

But it is now something made out of obsidian glass, like, uh...

Hallie

Alright.

Kyle

Well, I mean, you don't even know if it was a machine. It was like, an automaton, but, uh, Xoc is the only one who saw what they used to look like, and they were kind of a weird mix of organic vines and stones? So.

Hallie

That's true.

Kyle

Who can say for sure if they were more organic or mechanical life.

Hallie

Okay. Well, then I can't use machine control implant, that cypher I got...in the first session.

All

[Laughter.]

Hallie

It's okay. That was all I had, Hopper has no good abilities.

Kyle

[Laughing.]

Emily

If no one has...

Tom

I have an idea.

Emily

Okay, cool.

Tom

Now, I suppose you'll have to tell me, Kyle, if this counts as two actions or not. Is it possible for Everett to use his super-vision to see a weak point in this, this very armored boy, and allow, allow Xoc to try a more precise Cutting Light blast that will disable it in some way.

Kyle

I would say that is two, because Everett is helping you, but it's kind of a mega attack. But I think it's great, so roleplay me out how this, how this happens.

Tom

Alright, alright, alright.

[Intense piano music begins to play.]

So Xoc, throughout this whole encounter has been a little frantic, just not really processing other than the fight and flight response. Xoc just turns to Everett, seeing this very armored boy, and is just like,

Tom (as Xoc)

You, you see things! Oh, uh—where do I shoot it? Where do I hit it?

Kyle (as Everett)

Wh-what, how can I see? It's all black. [With dawning understanding.] Ohhhh, right--

Kyle

And he starts blinking his eyes quickly, and his eyes become a glossy black. And he points to where one of the vines are.

Kyle (as Everett)

[Stammering.] Uh...uh, uh....

Kyle

And he can't seem to make it out, because whatever he's seeing seems to be very spooky.

Tom

So what Xoc does is, like, standing like right behind him, reaches like an arm over Everett's pointing arm and charges up his cutting light and fires on that precise spot.

Kyle

Give me a roll.

Tom

I'm going to use a different die for this one and pray for the heart of the cards, because I just burned all our actions on this one gamble. [Dice roll.] An eleven?

[A pause. The music fades.]

[Higher, strained.] An eleven?

Kyle

It does not succeed. So what will happen next will not count as a GM intrusion.

Tom

[Shakily, incredulously.] W-w-w-what?

[A creepy thumping noise begins in the background, like the slow, steady mechanical chugging of a powerful machine and turns into dramatic, thumping drums.]

Kyle

You get lucky, Xoc. It feels like you shouldn't be able to cut through this...thing, and it almost is like it lets go as you shoot into it. And with the assistance of Mauve gunning the engine, it just kind of rips itself apart. Everything else turned into nice shreds. It looks like in this case, the tiles literally snapped in half. And Mauve gets closer and closer to the cavern and you hear one more shot of a soldier fly above you and land in front of you.

And you just hear Mauve yell—

Kyle (as Mauve)

[In horror.] Sue?!

Kyle

And you hear a screech as the wagon skutters and tips to the side, and keeps spinning around, and

[00:50:00]

through these motions Mauve is thrown off the wagon and conks her head on the back and falls to the ground. And you see through these eyes, the large, burly figure of the hero of Navarene, who had been consumed by the spider: Sue Strongarm, now completely obsidian glass.

And you continue to spin, and spin, and spin, and the wagon jumps off over this ravine, and starts knocking itself against the platforms on the way down and you feel like somebody has to take control of this machine or it is going to crash and you will have nowhere to run.

[The music stops.]

Who goes for it.

Emily

Well—

Kyle

Who goes for the wheel?

Emily

Elee's gone straight for Soe. [Laughs.] She's not thinking about the wheel.

Tom

Xoc is in a state of shock.

Hallie

Ah, Hopper would go for the wheel, unless someone else wants to? Because Hopper already drove the wagon boat. He would either instinctively move towards the back of the wagon, because Mauve fell off the wagon, right? Or is she in the back.

Kyle

No, she's on the wagon. She conked her head and she fell to the ground in the wagon.

Hallie

Oh, I thought she fell off and I was like, nooo! Okay, in that case he would go for the wheel, but I don't want to take it from anyone who might want to drive because I already had the opportunity.

Kyle

Okay, Hop. You go for the wheel, and it is shaking violently, and I need you to roll to try to maneuver itself.

Hallie

Can I put a level of effort?

Kyle

Yeah.

Hallie

This is might effort?

Kyle

Uh, yeah, probably might to take control of it.

Hallie

Okay. [Dice roll.]

[Hesitant.] I got six.

Kyle

You got what?

Hallie

[Tightly.] Six.

Tom

[Startled laugh.]

Kyle

[Snorts with laughter.]

You shudder violently against this wheel and are thrown backwards.

Hallie

Dammit!

Kyle

Do you say anything?

Hallie

Nah—I, nah, he would just go for it. I mean, I'm sure he's going [Frustrated noise.]

Because it's, yeah, but he doesn't like, say anything.

Kyle

Yeah.

This machine is shaking. Everything is is violent, and you're spinning around, and it's unfamiliar and it's scary.

[A methodical synthetic melody begins to play, Misha’s theme. It intensifies as Kyle speaks.]

But to Misha, it feels like a memory.

Ari

[Confused, distressed noise.]

Kyle

And Misha turns over to the wheel on the front of this spectacularly crashing vehicle, and suddenly they feel like they know what to do, because Misha is now permanently specialized in driving.

Ari

[Shocked.] What?!

Kyle

Update your character sheet, please.

[The music intensifies further, with a lower, more ominous beat.]

Ari

Oh my God.

Tom

[Gasp.]

Kyle

And by specialized, that means everything will be two steps easier, which means Ari will have to roll six less than normal to succeed.

Emily

[Anxious laugh.]

Ari

[Strained and unsure.] Okay?

Kyle

Misha. What are you gonna do?

Ari

[Uncertain.] Drive?

All

[Laughter.]

Kyle

Roll to drive.

Ari

[Tentatively.] Okay. [Dice roll.] An eight.

Kyle

[The music begins again.]

You grab the vehicle. And it shudders and it shakes, and it almost throws you off. But you know how to tell a vehicle that no, you are in control now. You are the one who will decide what to do.

Ari

C-can I also flavor it that at first, it like went badly because they were kind of shook about suddenly remembering this thing?

Kyle

Yeah.

Ari

Okay.

Kyle

So you're scared at first. Uh, you grab this vehicle, and it shakes and it shudders and you're scared. It's taking control. You don't know why you know what to do, and you don't know why it would work. But you just remember the one thing you know, which is to tell the vehicle you are in control now, to make it clear that you are the one who is driving.

And you grab it, and you position yourself perfectly behind the wheel, and you gracefully jump down the last few platforms into the rezin—ravine, and under the cover of the outcroppings. You don't know whether or not the Apocrita knows where you are, and you don't know whether or not it's chasing you. But you know, it can't get you where you are now.

And after a few hours, you make your way back to the unchanged town of Fasten.

[Gentle, hopeful piano music begins to play.]

Everyone is probably pretty battered in the, in the boat. Mauve is now sitting up in nursing her head a little bit, whereas the citizens of Fasten have hardly even noticed the fight that you had. Everyone is settling in for the night after just another day, same as the rest, while your beaten and battered wagon shuffles itself to the upturned barn where Mako and Jesse have been waiting for you. And Jesse you can see is waiting outside the barn, and they run up really excited. They're like,

Kyle (as Jesse)

[Exuberant.] Everyone, everyone, you're back!

Kyle

And um, they don't seem to notice how distraught everyone is.

Hallie

[Laughter.]

Kyle (as Jesse)

[Quickly, over-excited.] What happened? You gotta tell me everything! What was everything that happened. You gotta tell me every—

[Jesse cuts themself off and gasps.]

Kyle

They um, they see Everett's sad face, but they can't focus on it because they see the hat, the propeller beanie that Hopper bought Everett on Jesse's behalf. And Jesse's like,

Kyle (as Jesse)

[Quiet and intense.] Everett. That's the coolest dad I've ever seen.

Kyle

And Everett, you can see was real down, just starts,

Kyle (as Everett)

[Scoffs.] Well, I guess it's kind of cool.

Kyle

And this like, really awkward child starts to smile again, and he gets off with Jesse and Jesse says,

Kyle (as Jesse)

I gotta, I gotta tell all, I gotta talk about everything that you did, but I gotta go tell Mr. Mako you're here!

Kyle

And they and Everett run off and

[00:55:00]

Mauve, you can see, just sighs and she says.

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Resigned.] Yeah, we better go talk to my husband.

Kyle

And she gets up and she starts shuffling towards the barn.

Tom

Xoc, with a with a sort of shell shocked look in his eyes, will follow.

Ari

Yeah, Misha will follow too but they...

Hallie

[Wryly.] I think everyone's pretty dazed.

All

Yeah.

Hallie

Just blindly following.

Emily

Can I sort of, as we follow, kind of gesture for Soe to follow Jesse and Everett?

Kyle

Yeah.

Emily

Just because I, like, I feel like that's a reasonable mom thing to do.

Kyle

[Chuckles.]

Emily

Be like, go with the other kids.

Kyle

Yeah. So you all make it into the barn. You're a little bit behind Mauve, so you can see that Mako has put this grant, this blue granulated azure into a, uh, into a vial and he's explaining to everyone and he's like,

[Light-hearted, whimsical music begins to play.]

Kyle (as Mako)

Oh, I'm glad you're all here. So the way this vial is going to work—

Kyle

And you hear Mauve saying,

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Exasperated.] Mako, Mako.

Kyle (as Mako)

[Steamrolling on.] Alright, now that it is distilled down, it is going to—

Kyle (as Mauve)

Mako. [More insistent.] Mako!

Kyle (as Mako)

It's going to make the perfect device. It will not only protect you when you're trying to heal someone else who has spiders, but it’ll also teach you how to do it!

Kyle

And the blue glass, uh, has now been melted, and it's been put into what looks like a defibrillator case? But on the inside you can see a red hematium crystal that now has these blue lines coursing through it.

Kyle (as Mako)

[Pleased with himself.] All you have to do is press the button. Pretty nifty, am I right?

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Frustrated.] Mako. Mako.

Kyle (as Mako)

If, you know, the Apocrita ever hits us, which, honestly, why would it even do that? We'll be perfectly prepared. Now onto the other thing—

[The music stops.]

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Sternly.] Mako, the Apocrita is back.

Kyle

And this man who you have never seen do anything but have the biggest smile, his face grows grim. And Mauve continues.

Kyle (as Mauve)

Mako. I saw Sue. This isn't...this is real. I-it found us.

Kyle

And Mako's like,

Kyle (as Mako)

[Awkward laughter.] Well, you know, that's, that's uh...

Kyle

And Mako like just sits there, nods for a second, and he's like,

Kyle (as Mako)

[Intense, dramatic, urgent string music begins.]

[More serious.] Alright, we evacuate the town. Jesse, go to the mayor and tell him to do everything I told him to do. Everett. I know you just got back and you got tired but you've got eyes on everything. I need you to make sure that everybody in town is able to leave as soon as they can. And the rest of you, I just met you, but you got to do what you do best and you've got to protect these people in case it hits us next.

Hallie (as Hopper)

[Softly.] Mako, do you have an evacuation plan? Is—are you going anywhere specific?

Kyle (as Mako)

Well, we're going away as far as we can.

Kyle

And Mauve pops in,

Kyle (as Mauve)

Yeah. Remember the Apocrita can only base where it goes off the memories of its former users. If we can go someplace that nobody from here has ever heard of, there's no way it'll follow us there.

Hallie

Uh...Hopper will nod.

Hallie (as Hopper)

You have a plan in place?

Kyle (as Mauve)

We've had a plan in place for forty years.

Hallie (as Hopper)

Okay. That's good. Can I look at it? I'll help with whatever I can.

Kyle

Yeah, Mako throws a plan to you.

Kyle (as Mako)

The first thing we need to do is we need to figure out where it's planning to attack next, based on who its seen. Fasten cannot be safe, Fasten knew money people from Obsidian Bay. So we have to go someplace safe, someplace no one from Obsidian Bay has ever heard of. Someplace like Roulettia.

Hallie (as Hopper)

Roulettia might not be so bad.

Emily (as Elee)

We left it in the flames of revolution.

Hallie (as Hopper)

Yeah, but they'll, I mean—

Emily (as Elee)

Yeah, but I mean like, it's better now.

Hallie

Kyle. I have an atlas with histor—important historical events at the Steadfast. If I leafed through that, would that maybe help me find any suitable location?

Kyle

Yeah.

Hallie

Yeah, he'll pull that out. And if it takes a while that's fine, but he would pull that out and look for a good evacuation location.

Kyle

Also you start looking through and Mako turns over the Xoc and says,

Kyle (as Mako)

Actually that's a good place to start. Xoc, where did it attack you?

Tom (as Xoc)

We'd only just left Roulettia. We were only...probably less than twenty minutes outside of the city when the storm got us.

Kyle (as Mako)

[Strained laughter.] Xoc. I appreciate the levity, but now is not the time for humor. The only person who knew about Roulettia was Sue, and last I heard she didn't know anyone there. The only people she knew or us and we were in Charmonde. Why on Earth would it be in Roulettia?

Emily (as Elee)

It's not a joking matter Mako. He's telling the truth.

Kyle (as Mako)

[Disbelieving noise.] But that's impossible. He—we know every place it's hit. We got rid of all the spiders. Even Xoc, who I was worried about, hasn't suffered a single side effect. There's no way it would have changed course--

Tom (as Xoc)

Unless...

Tom

[Tense, emotional piano music begins to play.]

Xoc will actually just sort of, like, in the middle of this, run up and just hug Mako unexpectedly out of nowhere and be like,

Hallie

Aww.

Tom (as Xoc)

[Clearly distraught.] I'm really sorry, when I, last time I saw you—I, I said some things I didn't mean. I was, I was scared, and worried, and I didn't know what to say, and I'm sorry, but I was also afraid because I thought...I think maybe the Apocrita is still inside me. I didn't tell you, but there's someone in my head now, since then?

Tom

And Xoc will gesture to, like, beside him.

Tom (as Xoc)

This is Loell.

Tom

Even though no one can see anything.

Tom (as Xoc)

He's in my head now.

Kyle

[Curious.] Tom. What are you talking about?

Tom (as Xoc)

[Somewhat taken aback.] What?

Kyle

Loell isn't there.

[Pause.]

Loell hasn't been there since the Apocrita attacked.

[The music hits one last melancholy note and fades.]

Tom

Xoc actually gets concerned then.

Tom (as Xoc)

[A little forlorn.] Well, normally Loell would be around here somewhere.

[01:00:00]

He's been in my head ever since I woke up here in Fasten. I think the Apocrita absorbed him years ago, back when you were first fighting it, and I think maybe he got stuck in my brain when the Apocrita was in me, and I don't know where he is now.

Kyle

He's going to pat your back and he's going to be like,

Kyle (as Mako)

Xoc, it's okay. We've all made mistakes. I've made mistakes before, and if what you said is true, we'll figure out a way around it. We know the knowledge now, and the Apocrita doesn't have a mind of its own. It can't figure out global locations. And it only takes the biggest target! And it won't even bother with little old us, ‘cause again, it doesn't attack single ships. It only goes after major cities.

Tom

[Slowly, considering.] And Xoc says,

Tom (as Xoc)

Had Aegon ever been to Roulettia?

Kyle (as Mako)

He'd been, but he preferred to forget.

Tom (as Xoc)

[The piano music begins again.]

I don't think he did forget. You said the storm didn't have a mind, but what if it does now? Because it wasn't just chasing us. It was trying to stop us.

Kyle

And that's when Mauve turns over.

Kyle (as Mauve)

Mako, the Apocrita isn't just hunting anyone. It's hunting us.

Kyle

And Mako turns to a frown and his eyes kind of dart around, and he's trying to think of a plan in his head.

[The music intensifies.]

And eventually that boisterous smile comes back, and he snaps his finger, and he says,

Kyle (as Mako)

[Surprisingly cheery.] Alright!

[The music ends.]

Change of plans. We sacrifice ourselves.

[Long pause.]

Hallie

Hop is still looking through the book, but did he find anything? Because he would look up from the book of be like,

Hallie (as Hopper)

I don't...I don't think that'll be necessary, Mako. I mean, I don't want it to be. We should look for other options.

Kyle (as Mako)

Hopper Scotch, you're a man of math. There are no other options. This thing is chasing us. So long as we are here, we are a liability to the people of Fasten, but if we can draw its attention away, then they'll be perfectly fine! And after all, so long as it's chasing us, it's not worried about the Professor. And at the very least, it doesn't know where she is, right?

Hallie (as Hopper)

There's no guarantee of everything. There's no guarantee that if you did that, it would work. And if you're gone, we don't have any medicine left. We don't have any, anyone who knows how it works to help us stop it.

Kyle (as Mako)

Well, sure you do!

Kyle

And he throws you the throws you the defibrillator thing. He says,

Kyle (as Mako)

That gives you every instruction. And again, it's a quick chase. Get it out of town, we go our separate ways, it doesn't have to worry about us again.

Kyle

And that's when Mauve pipes in,

Kyle (as Mauve)

Xoc, your, your friend, was he there when we talked about the professor?

Tom (as Xoc)

[Hesitant.] I...I...I'm not sure? He sort of comes and goes.

Kyle (as Mauve)

Xoc. I need—I need you to think hard. Was he there?

Tom (as Xoc)

I...um. I think he was? I, I guess, he, yeah. [Disappointed.] He was there.

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Sighs.] Well, then we're in a bit of a bind, because the second we get away from it, that thing's gonna go straight after her. It knows where she is, and it knows how long she's gonna be there. And if you're right and Aegon is piloting that thing, he knows exactly where to take it.

Tom (as Xoc)

[The piano music begins to swell again.]

[Slightly panicked.] Well, the plan doesn't have to change! We were—we were always going to go to Qi and find the professor. Even if we run, even if we let that thing chase us forever, more people are going to get hurt. We can't just ride off into the Beyond

Emily (as Elee)

[Firmly.] Xoc, They're not proposing that we go with.

Tom (as Xoc)

[Confused.] What?

Kyle (as Mauve)

Here's the thing, Xoc. We go straight to Qi, and that thing's gonna catch up with us before we have a chance to go. The Jagged Dream is there. The Professor is there. As I said, if there's someone who's going to help you solve this thing long-term, it's her. Especially if you got something going on with your brain, there's no one better to let you know what happened.

[The piano music fades and ends.]

But the thing is, you need time. We can give you that time, because so long as it's chasing us to a destination, it does not know. It will not leave until it catches up, or we disappear. We can give you the time to figure out how to stop it for good.

Tom

Xoc...I guess his eyes widen with sort of a dawning horror as he as he comprehends the plan properly and he says,

Tom (as Xoc)

[Distraught, clearly scrambling for some way to change their minds.] We don't even—we don't even know who it's really chasing. Maybe it's me! Maybe I'm the one who should be going away. I'm the link after all, right? I, I was one who got—was almost sucked in. I'm the one with the brain boy.

Kyle (as Mako)

[Chuckling.] Exactly. That makes you the perfect candidate. We've never had an opportunity like this before. If the Apocrita is spying through you, we can spy back, but we need the Professor to do that.

Tom (as Xoc)

[Pained.] I don't...I don't want you to go though.

Hallie (as Hopper)

[Gently.] Xoc. I think they're right. I think this is the best plan, with the most likely positive outcome

Tom

[Slightly strained.] I--Xoc and I are both genuinely at a loss. Xoc is I think going to just wordlessly step outside the barn.

Ari

Misha is going to like...they have been kind of dazed during this whole thing, but they have been listening to everything intently, and they will say,

Ari (as Misha)

But I recall when Elee B, uh,

[01:05:00]

long ago, or a couple of days ago, said that we all were in a boat, in a similar, the same boat.

Tom

[Pained gasp.]

Ari (as Misha)

And I didn't quite understand what that meant. But I think now this means that we all share this,

Tom

[Slight sniffle.]

Ari (as Misha)

And if...if...if we separate, then what will happen to our boat?

Emily

[Pained.] Oh, oh, my heart. Misha brought up the boat speech and I wasn't prepared. I was prepared for some things...

Tom

I...

Emily

Ohh.

Tom

I...This is a fucking feels roller coaster, because I have gone from thinking, oh Mako has been killed to, oh, no, it's okay, Mako's alive too, oh, but by the way, Mako and Mauve are going to lead it off and sacrifice themselves for...oh dear. I've...[Trails off, quiet.] I've done a goofer.

Emily

So at...at hearing Misha say that, Elee's gonna turn towards them.

Emily (as Elee)

Misha. I...I meant what I said.

Ari (as Misha)

I finally understand...understand it, Elee B. But if they leave the boat, they will drown.

Kyle

I'm...

Emily (as Elee)

[Soft, warm piano music begins to play — Karl's song.]

Sometimes people leave...and it's really, really sad, but people do leave the boat.

Kyle (as Mauve)

Besides, it was never really our boat anyway. We were just loaning it from you. I think it's time to drive in our old beat up one for a while.

Kyle

And Jesse pipes in like,

Kyle (as Jesse)

[Strained cheerfulness.] Yeah, no you can go and, and the three of us will uh, will help with that.

[Music stops.]

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Quickly.] Jesse, Jesse, no, ah...you're not coming in this one either.

Kyle (as Jesse)

[Laughing, disbelieving.] But, but you always said you bring your team, you bring your team along with you.

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Taking a breath.] I...know I said that Jesse, but uh...

Kyle

And Mako's gonna take a set of keys and throw them to Jesse and be like,

Kyle (as Mako)

Jesse. How about...how about you try our new boat that you and I have been working on for us.

Kyle

And Jesse's like,

Kyle (as Jesse)

[Uncertain.] Oh, oh, oh, okay.

Kyle

[Melancholy piano music begins to play—there's a note of finality.]

And meanwhile Mauve turns over to Everett, who is refusing eye contact, and she says,

Kyle (as Mauve)

Oh and Everett, I ah, I wanted to wait till you were ready to give you this but uh, but who am I kidding. You were always ready.

Tom and Emily

[Pained exhales.]

Kyle (as Mauve)

You just just open it when you recognize that.

Kyle

And she picks up a conspicuously rapier sized case

Tom

[Very faint sobbing in the background.]

Kyle

And hands it out to them. He crosses his arms and he turns away, and she's like,

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Gently pleading.] Everett...Everett, please.

Kyle

And with a huff he grabs it and he puts it down. And before they leave Mauve grabs, each of them on the shoulder and says,

Kyle (as Mauve)

I...love you kids. Want you remember that. Okay?

Kyle

And now it is just Mako, Mauve, Elee, and Hop. And Mauve turns over you and says,

Kyle (as Mauve)

Elee, Elee Badge. Just watch over my kids for me. Will ya?

Emily (as Elee)

[Strained.] I'll... [Sighs.] I'll try. Just don't walk away thinking I could be you. I'll try not to be just a bodyguard, but...

Kyle (as Mauve)

As I told you, Elee Badge.

Kyle

And she stands up and winks.

Kyle (as Mauve)

[Warmly.] You're a natural at this.

Tom

[More faint sobbing.]

Kyle

And they start packing the boat, and they drive out to all of you waiting outside. And before they go, Mako turns over to all of you, and he says,

Kyle (as Mauve)

From one generation of heroes to another, don't mess it up like we did.

Kyle

And they drive off and you hear Tready whistle.

Kyle (as Tready)

[Tready whistles "charge."]

Kyle

And the last whistle fades as they leave Fasten.

[The piano music fades into an eerie, chiming song.]

It's not long until the Apocrita appears as a small, undefinable dot on the skyline. But soon enough, the threat grows bigger, and its features grow more defined. The Apocrita comes closer, and closer still, and it's hard to tell in these moments of uncertainty which would be better.

Would it be better for the Apocrita to continue course towards Fasten? To march towards you with the promise of an endless struggle?

Or would it be better for you to be granted just a few moments of quiet in exchange for...[Trails off, the quiet heavy with the implication of what Mauve and Mako have done.]

You don't get to consider this for long, because the Apocrita stops growing.

[The music slowly fades into the closing song, "Hitoshio," by Miracle of Sound.]

It turns and it moves right across your vision, dutifully following a small wagon driving away as the beams of the setting sun chase them both.

[Faint huff of laughter.] It's funny. With all the excitement...you didn't even realize that the sun was setting.

[Closing music intensifies.]

Tom

[Pained.] What the fuck, Kyle? Is this?

[Episode ends - 01:10:01]

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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)