Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Tiny Frontiers: Post Credits and Behind the Scenes

A post credit scene while I prepare chapter two. It works for Marvel...

Icon for Hire,  The Grey

“I am standing on the edge of returning or just running away…”

The room is dark, lacking any form of light save the luminous glow surrounding Laneira. She sits, resting her chin on arms crossed over her knees. Thinking. Remembering. Fetu steps in from a doorway hidden by the deep shadows, stopping a short distance away.

“Hey, just wanted ta see how you was doing.” His voice is quiet and gently coaxing.

“I’m alright,” Laneira replies, not bothering to glance up at the intrusion. “Just thinking how I'm going to do all this. You don't have permissions, so it's just me.”

“Yeah, but, you know I'm gonna keep hackin' at security ‘til I get in. You won't be alone for long.”

“I know,” though her voice sounds unconvinced.

“So what's wrong, then?”

Laneira turns her unfocused gaze on Fetu, features measured and distant. “I’ll show you.”

One hand moves from clutching her knees and casually lifts, the room begins to illuminate, matching her gesture like a switch. The cube she sits in has transparent walls showing the view outside.

The void around the ship is smoky and colored in shades of grey. Thick clouds of ash tinted fog floating in a sea of black and white. Fetu spins in a slow circle, realizing the patches of black are moving. Immense coils of darkness swim through the void following unseen currents. The eel like eyes glow in shades of pumpkin or blue.

“What is this?”

Laneira watches Fetu from her seat on the floor. “This is what faster than light travel really looks like. My sensors monitor their movement while we travel through The Grey.”

“Shit. I thought it was jus’, ya know, dark.” His eyed meet Laneira’s. “This is what you see every time you jump on a Relay?”

Laneira nods. “They're always there. Waiting.”

“Waiting fo' what?”

“For a ship to punch a hole back into reality, so they can slip in.”

In the distance, a mass of eels swirl and swim away. Another mass of writhing tendrils briefly appears with glowing monochromatic green eyes. The thing, even from this distance, could dwarf a planet. The five pointed pupils seem fixated on the ship, an interloper, and stares at it intently.

“Why didn't you say anything eatlier?” Fetu asks.

“Because. I didn't know if I was going to be dismantled, studied, decommissioned, or what. Until we left Earth behind, I didn't even trust you or Vince. Now…”

Laneira’s voice lowers, just above a whisper.

“Now, I fucked it all up. If I hadn't killed the process, hadn't interfered…,” her words catch, altering what she had been about to say, “I spent lifetimes with him, Fet. Loved him, married him, hated him, murdered him. I explored countless realities to find the one where he belongs.”

Laneira takes a breath, “And to know he's sitting right there,” her hands sweep a small circle, encompassing the ship, “and I'm just… just…”

“A machine,” he finishes for her. He walks over and places a hand on her shoulder, wearing a facsimile of a wan smile and too human sympathy. “I'm sorry.”

* * * * * Behind the Scenes * * * * *

Initially, Wendy was just a character running through games as an avatar for testing game systems, but she took on a personality of her own. At first, I thought Vince and Wendy were the same person; one when in the virtual world, the other in the real world but asleep.

I had wanted to blend the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology into the story, leaving Vince suspended in Hel, where Vince’s avatar would mutter something about how, “back in my day, Pluto was a planet.” Then Laneira would make the connection between Hel and Pluto, i.e. when Hel freezes over.

Then the two Brencias butted in, and I realized Laneira, The First Grey and the Last were three sisters. The Norns. Fitting because The First is the Weaver, The Last is the one that cuts and Laneira is the Seer. The initiation procedure entangles the pilot, the system monitor explores probabilities, and the exit process brings the pilot back.

Chapter 2 is less system flipping and more solid. It blends Dresden Files Accelerated, Mantles and Mythos from City of Mist. A tech noir fantasy with a touch of Tron Legacy. I plan to use my take on Untold: Adventures Await for session planning and limiting it to seven sessions (about 35 scenes). The Dungeon World Adventure Builder and Aladdin technique will alter it slightly to leave me a little in the Dark about how things will turn out.

Instead of a song suggesting how the scene unfolds, the next chapter will have theme music. Since I found three (two opens and one close), I'll be writing Vince’s experiences concurrently.

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