INT. Lab - underground complex
The Gravedigger, Rhu, and Greibel are asleep. Radek is at a table, working on various tinkering, not all there, doing his bizarre equivalent of sleep.
The Gravedigger Dreams.
- You dream of Earth, dark and moist and full of worms. It surrounds you on all sides, yet you are not Earth. Well, of course you're not Earth. You know Earth. You are not Earth. You're what is left when the Earth is removed. You are black, like a sky once the bright lights are taken out of it, and empty, empty, empty... Struggling, you reach to grab the Earth that is all around you, so dark and moist, with all its wurms, the lives and the fullness of it. You reach and you grasp and you pull, and it all falls into you, but you feel no less empty. You feel bigger, and more powerful, but also more alone, for the Earth is further away, now. It fears you, or it longs for you, but when you embrace the Earth it falls away and is gone, and you are even more alone with your black and empty sky.
The Gravedigger wakes up suddenly.
- "Hello," says Amadi. "It was about time you dropped by."
Greibel wakes up slowly.
- You dream of -
Radek's dream fades, and he dozes on, still tinkering at his things.
Rhu Dreams of darkness, empty and silent. A dead end.
The Gravedigger and Greibel awaken to hear Dawn saying 'WHEEEEEE' as she flies overhead and then notice some other things - the porridge has eaten most of the zombie corpse bits; the sphinx fell asleep and drooled all over the Mouseforged, which appears to be leaking something strange and silvery; Dawn got into Radek's things, borrowed some books, and made herself a floating disk and started whizzing around the room on it; and Amadi is sitting upside-down on the ceiling juggling geese.
This is better than breakfast in bed.
Dawn tries to fly up a wall and nearly falls off the disk.
Don't crash into the geese! They'll fall...up!
Greibel watches Dawn intently while occasionally glancing up at Amadi, and loads his bong accordingly. He smokes, grinning, watching everything unfold.
Amadi juggles geese.
The Gravedigger sighs.
Rhu continues to sleep.
Radek finishes whatever he was doing and snaps out of his dozey fugue.
Where's... where's that chicken gone? I was about to immolate it. Bloody pessimist.
I thought I was going to go and fight strange monsters. Battle wondrous beasts, bury them, go home, get money, go on holiday.
The commotion wakes Rhu as well, and Dawn crashes into a nearby wall and slides off the disk, winding up in this awkward upside-down position against the wall.
Rhu opens one eye, looks at Dawn, looks at Amadi, and then closes his one open eye as tightly as he can.
Five more minutes.
The Gravedigger goes to check on the Mouseforged. It seems to be oozing. Almost like it's slightly melted. The sphinx is also sleeping on it, drooling.
Radek! Melty robot!
Rhu opens both his eyes and stares at the ceiling for a minute, waiting until he can be properly resigned to his lot.
Amadi loses control of the geese and they all fall on Rhu, squacking indignantly. They flap around, running in every direction.
IN THE NAME OF -
Rhu gets up, covered in feathers.
(from the ceiling)
Rhu dodges away over a table, hitting a particularly large goose.
No no nononono!
Rhu gets up and goes over to Dawn to help her up.
(quickly, before he actually does)
No not the, spine, my spine is broken, spine spine pine.
(over the Mouseforged)
You wanted danger, Gravy? Remove the cat.
Radek takes a step backwards.
Rhu realises something is going on behind him and quickly turns around.
The Gravedigger readies his best shovel, takes up a golfing stance, limbers up his shoulders.
Rhu holds his breath.
The sphinx snores.
Dawn slowly slides down onto the floor, glaring at nothing in particular.
The Gravedigger swings and hits the sphinx with his shovel, sending it flying like a sack of potatoes. Unlike a sack of potatoes, it lands on its feet several feet away, looking confused.
You... attacked the sphinx? With a shovel. I... can't...
Dawn lies in a horrible heap.
It's magic, it'll be fine.
Amadi falls off the ceiling.
Mr. Mousie! Are you allright?
The Mouseforged doesn't respond. It's rather wet.
Greibel can't take it anymore and cracks up laughing hysterically.
Glad someone is amused.
Amadi gets up and looks around as though seeing the room for the first time.
Greibel, I think Sandwich lady is too high.
The Sphinx starts licking itself.
You're not too high until... uh...
Greibel starts laughing again.
Amadi starts laughing as well.
Radek examines the Mouseforged, trying to sort out just what it was that is leaking, and where it's leaking from. It seems to be coming from the heart. It might be the soul, mixed with a fair amount of sphinx drool.
The Gravedigger hurriedly starts trying to mop it up into a mug. He gets some in, but isn't very successful.
The Gravedigger tries harder, getting more drooled-on soul into the mug.
Frezak (Gravy): AAAAAGH. GORRAM CAT. SHALAS COUL TAKE YOU, CAT.
Amadi suddenly stops laughing and just stares off into space.
Radek examines the rest of the Mouseforged carefully. (rolled 31 arcana (natural 20)) The mouse soul looks fine. The leaking stuff seems to be... another soul.
Rhu turns back to Dawn, who is still lying in a horrible heap on the floor.
Are you okay?
I'm great. I'm just waiting for my spine to regrow.
Rhu stares at her.
Amadi turns her head slowly toward Gravy and the others.
What, Sandwich Lady?
Rhu wanders over to the north door and has a look in the corridor. (rolled 15 perception) The corridor is dark and not very interesting.
I'd wear it, you know.
(she turns to Greibel)
Greibel expresses exaggerated shock at the statement and looks around.
Oh! Well that explains it.
The Mouseforged is leaking out remnants of a second soul because it wasn't designed to house two of them!
Rhu goes and checks the other door, and senses undead in that direction. (rolled 27 perception)
Here, let me see that cup.
This has demon cat dribble in it.
That's probably fine.
Radek checks the soul in the cup - specifically, if there's any "mouse" in it. (rolled 30 arcana) It seems to be all not mouse, but full of memory and history. The drool also seems to be somewhat magical on its own.
...Yes, good. The mouse soul isn't leaking out. It's the other one instead.
WHEW. I was worried for a bit.
That said, it would be helpful to gather up what we can of this one. It has a memory I should like to dig through.
You can have my mug.
Radek gathers up as much of the silvery soul mixture as he can into the mug. It's full of drool, but he seems to get most of it. The thing has also clearly stopped leaking at this point.
He moves it into a stoppered flask.
Have you made room for the tuna?
I've always got room for tuna!
Where is it?
Greibel points to his stomach.
Yes, yes, of course. The crown of creation.
Dawn pulls herself back onto the disk and proceeds to lie on that instead of on the floor.
Radek directs his attention toward Dawn, walking over and indicating the floating disk.
You made this?
Well, you're the one commanding it, at least. Why are you lying like that?
My spine is broken. It'll regrow. I think.
Unfortunate. I recommend ceramic reinforcement if that happens often.
I've never heard of stuff like that, spines regrowing by themselves. Does that happen often?
I don't know if it does or not.
Amadi walks over to Dawn and straightens out her spine.
There. All fixed.
Ganelon (Radek): ...Is it actually all fixed, or just straight?
Apheori (GM): Hard to tell. Dawn doesn't seem to want to test it. She's not moving and looking slightly worried.
Greibel composes himself and then walks over to Dawn.
Open your mouth and say "ah".
Dawn does so, looking confused.
Greibel chuckles a bit before straightening back up.
How many fingers am I holding up?
Greibel keeps changing the number of fingers and switches hands occasionally.
Nine so far?
Greibel pokes her spine. (rolled 18 heal)
Dawn almost falls off the disk, and then it starts floating away. She tries sitting up, determines that she seems to be fine again after all, and makes herself comfortable.
Another satisfied customer.
Dawn glides over to Radek and watches him, possibly uncomfortably.
...Did you want something, Dave?
Probably. I should know what, shouldn't I? But I should know a lot of things.
If we're done here, we should get a move on. There are undead down this way, but I don't think there's too many of them.
I'd like to find out where we were transported to when we came here: same planet, different planet, space ship...
These tanks that Amadi keeps appearing in, they're not teleports, are they?
I don't remember teleporting anywhere.
Oh, are we? We got here through a teleport, but the other end of the teleport is underground too. Under a well in the town of Coffle, the seat of Deslan, on That Planet Which Only Had The One Big Hole.
There is a lot of rock up there.
Amadi disappears. Nobody reacts.
Maybe you were teleported and you didn't notice?
(he looks at his bong)
Rhu nods at Greibel.
How do you know we're underground?
Amadi appears behind Greibel.
I just... do? I can sense the rock. Rock and space. It has warmth.
If there's anything left to explore in the southern corridor, I think we should explore that first. I remember we stopped looking when we heard voices and came in here. Once we're done investigating there, we can go through the north door.
(whispering in Greibel's ear)
They'll go in the wall, you know.
Greibel straightens up, a bit confused.
All right! Let's go exploring!
It won't be a shovel.
The porridge jiggles. Greibel picks it up.
Amadi mutters to herself about mean, cold-hearted individuals and clucks disapprovingly. Then she walks over and picks up the sphinx and puts it on like a hat.
Dawn floats her disk over toward the corridor.
The Gravedigger swishes his shovel at the darkness down the corridor.
The darkness makes funny noises and disperses a bit.
That's... worrying. What about the Mouseforged?
I'm not sure darkness should make noises.
Hey, don't do that!
Definitely prefer silent darkness, myself. We still have torches, don't we -
What did the darkness ever do to you?
It made me trip! And ate my lunch!
I suppose that really wasn't very nice of it, now was it.
The Gravedigger attaches torches to his horns.
Radek checks on the Mouseforged again, making sure it's okay now that all its excess soul has been removed. (rolled 19 arcana) It... seems fine.
Radek smacks the Mouseforged sternly.
Hey! That doesn't look like science! That's animal cruelty!
Or robot cruelty. Or something.
The Mouseforged wakes up and makes mouse noises.
Hey, Mr Mousie! Yoo-hoo!
Oh, sorry. Squeak, squeak.
I know what I'm doing.
Well, you're not going to say otherwise ever if you were!
The Mouseforged gets up and falls over.
Oof. Careful, Mr. Mousie.
Hrrrm. Can we borrow your disk, Davenotdave?
What? Oh... I suppose.
Dawn looks reluctant, mostly to get up.
Finally she slides off the disk and bounces it off Gravy a few times like a slow-motion horizontal yo-yo.
Oh, thanks, Davenotdave.
The Gravedigger heaves the Mouseforged onto it and leads the way out.
Dawn eyes it suspiciously and then doesn't climb on top.
How's your back, Dave?
As the party heads out, Dawn and Amadi wind up side-by-side, not talking to each other.
INT. Hallway - underground complex
The party pass several uninteresting doors. One opened into an empty lunchroom. Another to a pile of offices with bones on the desks. A few to generally empty store rooms.
At one point they pass a closet, and Rhu opens it. The other side of the door is a solid wall of ice.
Rhu stares at it, then touches ice wall. It's definitely ice.
He shines a light at the ice to see if he can see anything beyond it, but it looks pretty solid. He then checks around the door for a sign or something, but finds none.
Yes, ice. In a closet. Underground. Without a sign.
You expect things to make sense now?
The Gravedigger scoffs.
The Gravedigger scoffs again.
The Gravedigger thinks scoffing is fun.
Greibel examines the ice, trying to see if he can figure out how the ice got there or something. (rolled 14 nature) It looks like it froze. The entire room froze. Filled with something and froze.
Melt some. See if it's salt or sweet water. If it's salt water, maybe leave it alone.
Is it fire bird time?
Greibel summons a fire hawk, which slashes the ice with flame. (rolled 18) Some of the ice melts and the edges turn kind of black.
Greibel's eyes turn to fire briefly and fizzle out back to normal over time.
He tastes the melty stuff. (rolled 27 nature) It tastes like burnt fish. And seawater, perhaps.
Sea water with... well, a high concentration of fish.
F... fish? Not... giant fish?
Giant fish don't taste much different from regular fish.
That is valuable information and I will remember that, Greibel.
NEXT DOOR. NOTHING TO SEE HERE.
Rhu looks nervously up and down the corridor.
PUT THE BIRDS AWAY.
Rhu closes the closet door and they move on.
We should turn around.
Huh? Why? We are Discovering New Things!
The space. It isn't right.
Yeah. We discovered a walk-in freezer.
It's okay. I know how to swim. We all do.
What's not right about the space?
I've yet to see anything 'right' since we got here.
Even the sharks!
They come to another door, and Radek checks it for magic or general wrongness. (rolled 14 arcana)
Amadi opens the door. Beyond just looks dark. She looks inside a moment, then runs in and disappears.
The Gravedigger looks inside, shining his torches inside. It's full of beds and not very interesting. There are some cabinets, and some corpses in the beds. Living quarters.
Rhu goes and looks through the cabinets, and Greibel looks too, mostly over Rhu's shoulder. They find some personal items, random stuff, an Amadi, some money, some trinkets, some pills. A dead rat.
The pills disappear into Greibel's bag.
Is this space any better? In terms of... spaciness?
It's going to cave in.
That's not good.
Then Rhu suddenly realises how not good that is and takes off, helter-skelter, running for the transporter room.
The Gravedigger runs too, getting ahead of Rhu, just in case. Amadi runs with him, singing 'Brave, Brave Sir Robin'.
Radek, Dawn, and Greibel run after, with Dawn pushing Radek to try to help him move faster. It doesn't really help. The disk with the Mouseforged drifts after.
Behind them, horrible noises and dust drift after them, indicating that that section of the complex did indeed cave in.
As they pass the lab where they'd spent the night, Amadi pulls Dawn aside, back into the lab. The Mouseforged, on its disk, is pulled inside as well as a result.
The others keep going.
INT. Teleporter room - underground complex
Everything is quiet again. In the relative calm, Radek gives Greibel a rundown of the controls, and which ones seemed to be trapped.
The Gravedigger goes first, standing on the dias while Radek hits the controls.
There's the usual light play, and then it makes a funny noise and dumps a bunch of silvery stuff on Gravy. It looks suspiciously like the same substance that had been coating Radek before.
That's not good.
The silvery stuff mostly just slides off and winds up in a puddle, and the Gravedigger wipes off the rest.
It's Mr Gooples, yes. The Silver Surfed.
Radek pushes on the Gravedigger to move and when he does, stands on the dias instead.
This substance is marvelous. Hit that button again!
Rhu hits the button.
Some more silvery stuff falls on Radek with a gloop, and then the entire contraption seems to die.
The silvery stuff slides off him as well, adding to the puddle.
Radek collects some of it off the floor in a mug. This time it sits sadly, not disappearing.
This is troublesome. What's wrong with the teleporter?
Well, it's wet with silver stuff, for one thing.
Radek goes to check, and fiddles with the console.
It's... out of power, or not receiving it.
Maybe...somebody's been here since the last time you were?
We won't be able to use it like this.
If we can find a room with a cat god shrine, I know the way back out from there.
INT. Lab - underground complex
The lab is empty, looking very much how they left it. There's no sign of Amadi, Dawn, or the Mouseforged.
The Gravedigger has a go at tracking them regardless. (rolled 40 perception (natural 20)) He finds some bits of tuna, and tracks them out the other door.
Continuing to track down the next corridor, he finds more bits of canned tuna on the way.
The others follow.
INT. Presentation room - underground complex
It's a circular room with 49 seats around the center, where a hologram is currently flickering about, showing random snatches of scenes and people. Amadi and Dawn are fiddling with a console on the other side, but the sphinx is draped across half of the console itself, so it's hard to tell how they'd make any progress.
The Mouseforged has apparently been dumped across a few seats.
The Gravedigger and the others spill in.
Greibel strolls over to Amadi and Dawn and watches their console-hackery. Amadi's just poking the same button over and over, and Dawn is half-heartedly trying to move the sphinx, but most of the attempts turn into ear scratchings and whatnot due to the sphinx intentionally getting in her way.
The teleporter is powerless. We can't use it to escape. What's all this?
Radek goes over to them as well to do some REAL science to the console.
The hologram is mostly flickering back to a single recording - it's a figure of a man, dressed like some sort of wizard or scientist. He seems to be speaking, but there's no sound. It jumps about randomly.
I see you found one of Radek's friends.
Some sort of recording. I think...
Well, if somebody would stop messing with it, maybe we could hear what he said?
Dawn gives Amadi a significant look.
(she returns the look, also significantly)
You don't want to.
It's really the only way to learn.
Greibel presses a few buttons curiously as well.
Dawn picks up the sphinx and dumps it on Amadi's head.
Amadi backs away, trips over a chair, and disappears, leaving the sphinx suddenly occupying the chair.
The Gravedigger stands near the door, having nothing to contribute. He checks a few chairs for popcorn. There isn't any.
Radek presses buttons purposefully. He unmutes it and restarts the recording from the beginning.
The man in the recording just stands there for a bit, as though trying to figure out what to say...
So this is it, then? The end? It wasn't supposed to end like this.
I used to love watching my colleagues' tapes of this sort of thing.
If you're seeing this, then we're all dead.
Since we lost contact with the surface, things have only gotten worse. The dead... have no stayed dead. The living have... disappeared? I'm not even sure. The contagion spread, but when the countermeasures were enacted that should have dissipated it, it only slowed, not stopped. Even the last puzzle box has been destroyed.
I don't even know when we lost contact. Time got funny, the walls got... funny. If it's still funny, then we'll have failed to even guard the rest. The worlds will be doomed.
The man stops, thinking, recomposing himself.
It's like the rifts, but I don't think it had anything to do with the rifts. Otherwise the countermeasures should have worked. And the experiments never breached containment. The subjects were all inert.
The man shakes his head.
We're supposed to know these things, right? Recording the final log, telling those who will come after exactly what went wrong?
You'd be surprised how often they don't.
Except everyone who knew is already dead. I'm already dead. We're all dead and there will be no answers, nobody to get back to Arah with this, to tell them the truth.
This was the wrong way forward. The very research intended to slow the end of times is bringing it about, and if the Orders would not keep interfering, this never would have happened.
Please, whoever you are. Dispose of the labs. clean up the experiments. Exterminate the dead, and close this place. Let the world's end wait another day.
The man in the hologram stands there for a bit, thinking if there's anything else to say, then walks out of the circle and the recording ends.
Radek finds some other recordings, too. Earlier logs, things about specific projects, information that might indeed be useful. He plays a few back.
Ganelon (Radek): "Final recordings of failed scientists" are like home movies to Radek, though. And he's an old person, so he loves them rather than finding them embarassing.
The Gravedigger goes and stands by the door in case of zombies.
Most of the recordings turn out to be actual presentations. Findings, progress reports, proposals.
The main project was an investigation of what they decided to call 'rifts'. The rifts were largely centred on Cerris (apparently this plane), but apparently they'd been popping up all across the planes, even outright destroying some of them, and it's only gotten worse as time went on.
Initially they sent teams to investigate the rifts directly, but the scientists were driven mad, their souls twisted beyond recognition. After that, they avoided getting close, and instead sent golems to collect samples and energy readings, to some success. They found several subjects that had apparently come out of more stable rifts, as well, and brought them back for further study - apparently the folks in the tanks.
Another project they were working on involved shielding based on an artifact they'd found. It suggested some new way to create invisible boundaries that blocked energy rather than matter, meaning only low-energy things could pass through - low levels of light, slower and colder objects...
Two other projects involved something with mutating birds and a thing about talking to the dead. It's unclear just what they were exactly because the guy documenting these seemed to be pretty crazy.
The bird one seems a little like it might have had something to do with a contagion like the first hologram mentioned, but it's not exactly clear.
Radek finishes, satisfied, then collects the storage crystals to take them with him.
Greibel, meanwhile, plays with the porridge.
Greibel makes a face at the porridge.
The porridge makes the face back at Greibel.
Ganelon (Radek): One of these days, man, that porridge is going to steal his actual face. I'm calling it now.