Monday, November 13, 2017

Solo Gaming Appreciation Month #8

The Hanged Man: Sacrifice

Taylor Swift’s video, Ready For It? almost screams Shadowrun to me. I like the art and direction of the video, and the lightning scene really wanted to be put into a scene...

The co-location room is nestled in the far corner of the building, safely tucked away underground and climate controlled. A heavy metal door bars Wendy’s progress.

“This is it, D. Plug in, and I’ll get it open. Be ready,” Fetu says.

Wendy takes a breath and silently strides toward the door. The cable connects her and Fetu to the keypad. She wills herself to be still and calm. Whatever lies beyond the door, the only way to close an Incursion was to destroy whatever Anchor lay beyond the threshold. She mentally tallies her options: the NorAm Thunderbird comes to her hand, the lightning lies in wait, her wristcomm is ready to pair with the explosive charges at the small of her back.

“Let’s do it,” Wendy sends.

The door slides open to reveal a room limned in the pumpkin glow of the Incursion. A lone figure, robes more a dark sepia beneath the dim light, crosses to one side of the room, connecting a thick cable from the wall to another rising up from the floor.

Sheets of graphene are stacked against every available wall like hanging book shelves. Each sheet glows with white circuits tracing labyrinthine paths across the thin carbon. The room is large but cramped with all the hanging slate; behind each stack, a rack holds several computers which are fed by the graphene circuit boards. Each computer is daisy chained by cabling that collects into a trunk which in turn follows back to the center of the room.

What appears to be a mass of cables sinking into the floor is a large gelatinous mass. It’s tarry bulk heaves with a breath like rhythm. Cables connect to tendrils extending from the thing, connecting organic with synthetic. Each breath is highlighted with a sheet of white that pulses along the dark skin into the cables to the servers then back.

Wendy goes into action and steps confidently into the room, levelling her Thunderbird at the lone figure and pulling the trigger.

Cogitator: +0 Combat, +0 Talk, +1 Skill, 1d6 Harm, 10 Luck

Neural Network: +0 Combat, +0 Talk, +0 Skill, no Harm, 10 Luck

Player rolls for combat: 4, Setback. Expends 1 Boon, Exchange. 1 Harm (9 remain). Cogitator chooses Counterattack, 6 Harm (24 remain).

Cogitator rolls for combat: 3, Setback. Player chooses Counterattack, 12 Harm.

Her bullets sail past the robed man and shatters a stack of graphene behind him. The Cogitator buzzes and turns from his almost priestly duties and returns fire, which Wendy is deftly able to dodge by rolling toward her attacker. As she comes to her feet, the Cogitator coldly glances down and continues firing his implanted pistol to be met with dead air; the slide jammed with a piece of greyscale brass.

Wendy seizes the opportunity and presses the Thunderbird against its forehead. The Thunderbird roars once again and shatters the cultist’s head with a .50 caliber bullet.

In the background, the giant mass continues to breathe and the air is filled with a slow groan. Nonsense emanates from the dark neuron.

“Vhu’ath. Othr’uth. I’ath’eth.”

Wendy cautiously approaches the thing in the floor, pistol waiting.

The thing continues, “Q’yth’ll. I’ath’eth. Q’yth’ll.”

Wendy stares down at the heaving mass, “I don’t understand.”

“Kill. Me.”

Wendy sends a communication to Fetu, “I’ve never heard of these things asking to die.”

Fetu comes back over comms, “Me neither. Jus’ do it, and we can ask yo’ friend lata.”

The thing continues in its slow ponderous voice, “Kill. Pll’uth’ss’uth. Q’yth’ll.”

Once the anchor was destroyed, the Incursion would retreat back to the Place Between Worlds. She closed her eyes and considered options; the room was filled with servers which connected to this amorphous thing. The course of action became clear.

Wendy reached in and touched the thread of lightning that was contained within her. A single white line that connected her to a raging tempest. The static built, her near white hair in a grey world floated. Wendy’s hands rose to her waist and lightning played along her fingers and jumped from one to the other.

The raging storm built and brushed against the inside of her skin; ethereal wind gently lifted her until her toes barely touched the floor. Within the eye of the storm inside, everything grew still.

A burst of lightning erupts from the elf and gracefully touches the graphene plates around her. Each white circuit turns azure as a surge of electricity merges with the carbon plates. A pair of sheets bursts into shards beneath the concussive pulse that stems from her.

Her heart beats and another pulse emanates from Wendy, sending another set of bolts through more graphene sheets. Each one overloads and explodes into dark shards that hangs in the air. The exposed servers suffer a similar fate with her next heartbeat; electricity entering the racks and overloading circuit boards with barely audible pops as capacitors overload.

Another wave sends tendrils of energy through the machines and down the cables that connect to the massive neuron waiting in the floor. Blue arcs dance along the sticky mass, playing with the sheets of pulsing white of its panicked respiration. Then, everything goes dark…

“Thank. You,” a voice whispers as it fades away.

Next: The Chariot and final scene.

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