INT. Great rift at Sanessee - caverns
The Rift, suspended like bubbles in the non-space behind Kyrule, is ghastly, but currently not really doing a whole lot, at least overtly. Everything is buzzing. It's a bit like being in a throbbing, whispering, toxic beehive.
The Gravedigger looks at Radek to say something rude/smart.
There is a horrible unfolding of porridge on the Gravedigger's shoulder, and Greibel crawls out of Rasputin like a newborn bird rolling out of something, far, far smaller than it. This makes a lot of unpleasant squishing noises.
GOD CREATED ME UNFINISHED.
Greibel slides off Gravy in a horrible sludging.
...Just on time.
What, would you rather be finished?
Greibel stands and straightens up.
So... what are we doin' here?
Rhu peers over the edge of one of the cracks into the crevice. (rolled 10 reality, 24 perception)
Down is just... there is no down. It's all an illusion. He finds himself standing on the edge of nothing, suspended by nothing, and before him might as well be anything. There are... lights. They're oddly pretty.
Ganelon (Radek): Treating these like natural cracks is... not recommended. Imagine if it were a zone of nothingness that extended past the ground and into the space above?
Ganelon (Radek): What if your face entered the nothing, and suddenly you had no face?
We might need The Thingy, Radek.
Radek sighs, sits down cross-legged, and begins to dig through everything in his possession.
Rhu starts to fall in, moving very slowly, and then tries to stop himself. (rolled 31 acrobatics (natural 20)) He winds up doing a backflip, ending hovering in midair over the crack itself.
Amadi jumps up and grabs Rhu, dangling from his leg as if he was a great balloon.
GET OVER HERE.
Greibel does thorn whip on Rhu and yanks him back down to real ground. (rolled 20 vs fortitude)
Kyrule sighs heavily.
(whispering loudly at Radek)
Radek holds up one of the marked stones - this one depicting a dragon.
...I may need to create one of these.
But the thing!
We all love the Fantastic Four, Gravy. But we have to learn to accept that they'll never make a good film.
ONny because they fucked up with Doom, Greibel.
I dunno, the Incredibles was pretty good.
Fair point. Let the Incredibles be your Fantastic Four.
Radek frowns and stares up at Gravy.
You know! The super secret thing we don't talk about!
The thing that's not a shovel!
...Of course. The thing.
Radek doesn't so much sound like he's having an epiphany as just realizing what Gravy's even talking about.
Right! The thing!
Rhu sees a familiar shadow out of the corner of his eye on the other side of some cracks.
What's that thing over there?
When he looks properly, it's gone.
Rhu shakes his head to clear it, then steps away from the crevice and towards the rest of the party.
Radek gets out the Navigator and mutters, rather quietly, to Gravy and whoever else might happen to be paying attention.
...I built a machine for the explicit purpose of navigating the space between dimensions.
That's really impressive. You should be proud.
It was meant to serve as a means of escape. Should a given world fall as completely as this one, we may have been able to-
Great! Gimme! I'll get the thing! Then I can scoop out everything that's not a hole and you can blow it up and we can go have cake.
Radek twitches a bit and scowls, intensely, at the Gravedigger's impatience.
...Give me a moment to make adjustments.
Radek configures the Navigator, attempting to set it up to go looking for "the thing" - which mostly boils down to extremely strong energy signatures - and bridge a path from here to there. (rolled 28 arcana)
The squid gibbers helpfully.
Alternatively, we could have cake, then blow it up, and scoop up the remains.
After a bit of fiddling, Radek draws his wizened old hands back and nods. It is active.
...Alright. Now it only need arrive outside to begin.
The Gravedigger pumps his throwing arm helpfully.
Do try to be careful with what could be our only means of escape from this horrid place.
Ganelon (Radek): Kyrule is likely a reliable means of escape, he just doesn't want to admit it.
I might have a hot air balloon and a twister somewhere... but yes, let's actually succeed for a change.
Instead of using one of the hovering shapes associated with the rift itself, the Gravedigger hefts his conceptual shovel and squints a little at the space right in front of him. He wiggles the shovel about, wedging the concept of Shovel under the concept of Here, moving it aside long enough to pitch the Navigator in. (rolled 31 shovellage (natural 20))
Then he pulls the shovel back with a strange rippling, the space recloses, and the area around sighs with relief that he's done prodding it.
The Gravedigger salutes Radek.
Kyrule raises an eyebrow.
Something starts oozing up the shovel, sliding up from the edges of the blade. Dark, gleaming, full of whispers, covering it...
The Gravedigger shakes the shovel.
Shoo! Mine! Find your own conceptual tool!
The stuff ignores him and molds into the form of the shovel, replacing it.
Aaaagh! MY SHOVEL.
The Gravedigger shakes harder.
The Gravedigger attempts to intimidate the Filth infesting his shovel. (rolled 32 intimidate (natural 20))
The shovel falls out of the Gravedigger's hand, sliding away like an unreal slippery thing, and impales the ground. This opens up another, stable, hole behind it, revealing a path of sorts leading out of this place, into the dark.
Shimmers form a surface to walk on. Not quite stars gleam in the depths.
The Gravedigger strides in, drawing a backup shovel as he goes.
Radek gradually rises to his feet and stares into the hole.
Kyrule comes over and puts a hand on the shovel's handle, holding it in place, also peering in.
Radek nods to Kyrule.
Keep this open, or I make no guarantees about my return.
Radek heads in after Gravy.
Bring back cake!
Aren't you coming?
I'll give you cake on the way?
Amadi holds up a cupcake.
Better that fewer go than more.
Greibel looks at Rhu and then suddenly looks like he's realised something awful.
Too much wear and it could fall to pieces.
Aw. You're no fun.
Amadi pouts at Kyrule and eats the cupcake.
You heard the Goddess. You don't need all my uh... drugs weighing down this ethereal non-path.
So many drugs. They're so heavy. I don't know how I manage to walk on my own two legs sometimes.
There might be fighting to do. I should go.
That's probably a terrible idea, Rhu!
Amadi grins at him and gives him a thumbs-up.
Rhu runs into the hole after Gravy and Radek.
Greibel stays behind a moment, looking around at the darkness. It's dark and threatening.
WAIT FOR ME!
Greibel chases after Rhu.
Fine! I'll just stay here, all alone with the scary darkness, with nobody to help me keep the path open if something goes wrong! Which it will!
Amadi shrugs her shoulders apologetically at Kyrule and hurries after Greibel.
Sorry! Key! You know how it is!
...it is a really good thing I'm not really Kyrule.
EXT. Unmade between - a concept
The party heads down the path, the Gravedigger leading, Radek behind him, Rhu in the middle, and Greibel and Amadi taking up the rear.
The path is worn, like too old fabric, but it holds underfoot. Around them, stars, beyond multitudes, feel as though they are singing.
Radek spends his journey taking observational notes, paying only enough attention elsewhere to continue following the Gravedigger.
The Gravedigger hums a cheery burial song.
Amadi sings too. The lyrics are pretty much "this is the worst idea and how the universe ends, most likely".
The path twists and turns, and then they come to a fork. One direction has a sense of future. The other hints at endings.
The Gravedigger starts to head down the 'endings' path, but then Amadi comes up beside him, still singing, and points down the 'future' path.
The Gravedigger droops and follows the midgety finger, going down that path instead.
They continue on.
At some point they notice they're not even walking anymore, just drifting, moving forward. Or whatever forward even is.
The path is woven in shapes that can't quite be discerned, patterns more complex than anything...
The singing, the star song, it has voices in it now.
Frezak (Gravy): So it's normal to Greibel, then. He basically doesn't know we entered the magic tunnel.
Bear Soup Guy (Greibel): Truth.
Amadi sings her own songs. Maybe the stars listen.
Radek notices some of the stars to be tone deaf. (rolled 25 perception) This, too, goes in his notes.
As they continue on, the sense of power grows, familiar, much like last time, but without the horrid, sickening strangeness about it.
Then they come to another fork, three ways branching out before them: truth, past, and void.
Amadi points, a little uncertainly, at void, before moving her finger over to truth.
The Gravedigger, again, follows the midgety finger.
Truth leads on into light, brilliant, horrible, all-encompassing. It builds slowly, at first, before exploding all around them.
Sorry. The others were... worse. Probably.
The light feels almost like a part of them, but also more than them. It is everything they are and ever were, and everything they've lost as mortals...
After a bit it fades into the background like crickets.
Radek pauses briefly from his fervent data-entry, though he doesn't look up from the tablet itself.
...Don't worry, this is well within our projected margins for failure.
We have margins?
I know we have failure, but margins? Gosh.
I don't share my calculations on how much we can fail before the world is destroyed.
It would be bad for morale, and I fear some of you may regard it as a challenge.
This light feels familiar, yes?
Although we are experiencing it from a... more stable environment.
They tumble out of the light into a space, clear and vast, but all laid out before them. All around is the light, and all around that is the singing of a thousand and a thousand and a thousand stars. In the middle is another light, small and closed. All the power, all the potentiality, all the promise of the Shovel, and so much more, too. Simply sitting there. Glowing. An orb the size of Amadi's head, colourful and not singing at all.
And underneath it all is dark.
Well... this is fancy. Or bad. Let's go with fancy.
Amadi nods a couple of times to herself to assure herself that it is indeed fancy rather than bad.
The Navigator is nearby, floating like the rest of them, marking the path.
Oh, hello Mr. Robot. Thanks for doing the thing.
Radek offers the machine a silent nod of congratulations. It performed its task adequately - the highest accolade a robot can receive.
(to the orb)
Hello! We'd like to fix the worlds, please!
The orb hums. It seems to understand. It seems to even agree.
Thanks! Don't mind the grump, his heart-metaphor is in the right metaphor-place.
The Gravedigger drifts over to the orb and attempts to pick it up with hands not quite real, but more real than anything.
The orb soaks into his skin, showing the worlds, promising strangeness. The vastness is huge.
The Gravedigger suddenly feels himself losing himself against the hugeness. (22 vs will; hit) But he can see them. All the worlds, all the realms, universes on top of universes, full of permutations. The all have names, written on the undersides of shapes...
To the others, he looks as though he's glowing massively, the same light trickling out through his seams, absorbing into his hands.
Amadi is suddenly convinced that this might actually be more bad than fancy.
Amadi drags sunglasses out of her pockets and puts a pair on Gravy, before tossing some to the others, too. They don't look exactly right. The lenses appear to be made of very dark soap-bubbleness.
Rhu puts the sunglasses on.
Radek, also seeing a bit of what the Gravedigger is, is a bit busy holding a slightly conceptual hand in front of his face and squinting, though he, too, manages to get the sunglasses on. They help, sort of. They change the light. They show its colours. But the colours aren't all of it.
An oddly familiar disembodied voice, not quite the Gravedigger's, booms out around them.
Hey. Get the fuck back, kid. Y'aint done here yet.
You're not being anything other than Gravy over my dead body. And I don't have one. So back you pop.
Graves yanks at of Gravy's part of the Gravedigger and yanks it back. (rolled 25 yanking)
The Gravedigger tumbles backwards from the orb, and it hums sadly.
Radek stares through the sunglasses, then lowers them and tries to see the light in its entirety, just to be sure he's not missing anything.
To the Gravedigger, all the worlds, all the names, vanish immediately.
Radek raises his conceptual hands - tools of manipulation - and studies the light.
What happened, Gravedigger? I have an incomplete picture.
Um. I saw everything. It's a bit... big?
Of course it is. ...That is why we break down the problem.
Um. Okay? If it's everything, there's nothing else to be with?
You felt that, too? You need something to be lonely, though. What is it? This place? This orb?
Amadi frets a little.
I... don't know. I should know, but...
Greibel drifts over to Rhu, swinging his legs comically on the way, and embraces the avenger tightly. They wind up slowly tumbling head-over-heels past everyone else.
I don't want to be aloooooooooone!
Rhu hugs Greibel back, looking a bit confused.
You're lonely too?
SO ALONE. I wish I had pizza rolls!
(patting Greibe's head)
Do you have any pizza rolls?
Amadi digs through her pockets for a very long time, eventually bringing out half a rolled-up pizza, slightly burnt.
There, see? Eat that up and you'll feel better.
Greibel takes the roll with a grateful nod and gets into a "sitting" sort of position in the nothingness to eat it.
Radek, meanwhile, formulates some prisms and lenses with which to break down the light. (rolled 23 arcana) Some separates out of the space before the main orb, and he winds up with two much smaller orbs, one blue, one groarnge. They're fist-sized, glowing, floating. They seem to want to be specific distances from the larger orb.
One of them has an odd feeling of fear about it.
Rhu tries to push himself in the direction of Radek, still bear-hugging Greibel. (rolled 14 acrobatics)
Greibel chomps the pizza bewilderedly as Rhu pulls him toward Radek and the orbs.
These aren't what Radek is looking for. So he tries again, shifting the two away, drawing out more light. (rolled 29 arcana) He separates out a single orb this time, pulling it from the ambient light around him. This one has no colour, only a sad song, lost, forgotten. It is black, gleaming almost like the holes themselves, but not, simply a piece of the overall picture.
Ganelon (Radek): I hope I'm not just - oh, who am I kidding, if I were destroying entire universes by doing this, I'd still do it without regrets.
Radek leans forward to touch the black orb directly. A means to understand. His forehead settles lightly on its not-quite surface. (18 vs will; miss)
The orb is a sense of loss, of sacrifice. Of so many things forgotten, of so much given for the smallest of improvements. It is the lives, the worlds, the hells. The family and the love, on so many levels, so many different beings, all faded, all, eventually, gone.
Radek frowns and waves the orb away. Loss is not what he is looking for.
Greibel is still hovering nearby, eating pizza.
A greasy, greasy collander.
Radek slowly turns his head towards Greibel and fixes him with a steely, discerning glare.
Greibel looks up at Radek with cheese hanging out of his mouth.
Radek hesitates, looking very irritated. This is one of the hardest things he's ever had to say.
...I could... use your help.
(he wipes his hands on his shirt)
Hopefully not pizza. I think that was the last of it.
Come here. I'm trying to separate aspects of value from this core.
Identifying them is simple enough once they've been isolated. What I need is targets.
...And this source is too vast to explore. What do you think?
What you need is a metal detector... orb detec... uh... relevance detector... a sieve.
That is correct. Thank you for volunteering. Stand -
(he shakes his head)
Float over here and focus your attention on the core.
Greibel floats over, bumbling into Radek for lack of coordination. Rhu drifts a bit to the side, not wanting to get in the way.
Radek grumbles irritably and takes out his tablet. After a moment's consideration, he reaches a hand into the screen and pulls out an extremely thin, shining filament, which he plugs into the back of Greibel's head. (rolled 22 arcana (Radek), 28 nature (Greibel))
Frezak (Gravy): So this is... Shadowrun, now?
Ganelon (Radek): Why not! The first thing that popped into my head was running a cable into Greibel's head.
Bear Soup Guy (Greibel): And the cable was the first thing that popped into Greibel's head.
Now that it's set up, Radek uses this to focus as he unfocuses the light. (rolled 26 arcana (Radek), 21 nature (Greibel)) He winds up with six orbs, sieved out of the light, hovering equidistant, buzzing. Each on its own is fairly meaningless, just bits and pieces, building blocks of space. But together, together they add up to something more beautiful than anything they've seen, glowing bright, buzzing, shimmering, full of raw potential.
Radek leans forward and touches one to his forhead. It's... heavy. Forceful. It likes patterns, likes to rearrange things, to pull them down, into place, exactly into place.
It's not clear what Radek's place would be, however.
Ganelon (Radek): I like this one.
Ganelon (Radek): And Radek knows what his place is. He is the one who sees the blueprints. He is the one who designs the pieces and decides what they do. Certainly, he is forceful. His goal is to force those designs into place and bring an end to this chaos devouring all of creation.
Ganelon (Radek): I will claim this orb. If it does not understand my place, I simply need to explain it.
Radek absorbs the orb into himself, and the other five try to come with it at first, then bouncing away and trying to instead use Radek as their cornerstone in its place. But the balance is shifted, and the song of the six, once so beautiful, has become discordant...
Amadi frowns just a tiny bit.
Well... that's not what I'd have done.
...This is what the Gravedigger sought.
Somewhere in this potential is the solution to our problem.
Er... You do realize you're dealing with a deck of cards as though they were all from different systems? Or... uh...
Taking a puzzle apart in order to swallow each piece, like a curious monkey...
Maybe just sort of herd them into the right place?
The Gravedigger hums soothingly at the orbs.
The right place is "together". But this puzzle is too great to comprehend as a whole. What else would you have me do?
Take the puzzle to where you need it?
We could take it to a god?
Radek drifts forwards.
The orbs, trying to remain exact distance away from each other and Radek, jitter confusedly as he moves. The distance they want to be seems to be changing almost at random.
One of them bonks into Radek's face.
This one is distinct, individual. It pushes everything away, and that makes the patterns that the other likes so much. It keeps things from balling, instead spreading out, showing worlds as separate entities. It is alone, and it wants everything to be alone.
Radek absorbs this one too, drawing it into himself and offsetting the first. They compliment each other strangely, in some ways exactly, in others not so much. The song is full of holes...
Then the other four all slam into Radek all at once and forcibly absorb themselves into him as well, knocking him backwards. It's overwhelming, covering his entire perception with something not quite there. White. Dark. Raspberry. It fills him, and he's not even quite clearly himself anymore. He's not quite clearly anything.
The Gravedigger grabs Radek, holding him in place. This time it's Radek who's glowing.
...Yeah... That's one of the reasons I wouldn't have done that...
WAKE UP, RADEK!
Radek doesn't respond at all to this.
Rhu quickly grabs some first aid stuff out of nowhere and stabs Radek with the conceptual equivalent of an adrenaline injection. (rolled 25 heal)
Radek wakes up screaming, and full of Creation.