Lacuna, Part I. The Birth of Mystery and the Girl from Blue City
Two new recruits. Both have not gamed in quite some time, so I felt I had to deliver an awesome game. Even more importantly, both were into games that I haven't really dipped into (one was into Warhammer and wargaming, the other was into Traveller) so I was worried if gaming styles might become an issue. Thankfully, it wasn't.
Candidate A was Mystery Agent Fletcher, who was trained by Senior Instructor Snyder. He was a Reader.
Candidate B was Mystery Agent Clark, who was trained by the late Agent Gardiner. He was a Doctor.
Receptionist speaks with the two on the basics, instructs them on how the dice is approached, and advised them that no other electronic devices were permitted on the table. Very quickly, the two grasped the systems necessary and reception reminded them that mission times typically are one to three hours long. They confirmed and were ready for Insertion into the Blue City.
The Team Leader position was given to Agent Clark.
10:07p.m. Mission begins. Urban Renewal is in 2 hours.
Agent Fletcher opens his eyes and finds himself in a dark corridor. Eight doors line the walls on both sides. At the end of the dark corridor, an open window suggesting a night sky. The sounds of traffic and laughter can be feebly heard nearby. Behind him, a heavy door with a horizontal bar. He pushes the bar and it gives, sliding into the room. A stairwell. The ground is tiled, but many tiles are broken. He gathers up tiles to keep the door from slamming closed behind him. There is no sign of Agent Clark. The smell of sea water is in the air.
Agent Clark opens his eyes to find himself in a tight chamber. There are steps upwards and downwards not too far away. There is a metal door as well nearby. A sign is nearby but Clark, not being a Reader, cannot make sense of the squiggly lines. He hears sounds and decides to chance it. He calls out for Fletcher.
Fletcher replies and the two realize they are both in the stairwell. Clark nearly mistakenly heads upwards, away from Fletcher, but corrects himself in time. He heads down the stairs to meet up with Fletcher. On Fletcher's end, however, a Personality appears at the end of the corridor. Body language and silhouette resemble that of a policeman or security guard. The man waves a flashlight around and seems to be checking each door. Fletcher grabs a larger chuck of debris, and stays beside the door, ready to strike if the man peers in. The man has a radio and soon can be heard conversing with someone else. Only his side of the conversation can be heard and clearly it is about ensuring there are no intruders.
Clark is making his way down, but stops upon seeing an object on the floor. It is a Lacuna device, just like the ones he and Fletcher have. He was not aware of any other Agents present. But then again, has yet to contact Control for Mission parameters. As he arrives at Fletcher's floor, he sees Fletcher staying hidden and quiet and realizes there may be someone nearby. He uses his Athletics to maneuver over the broken tiles without a sound and land behind the door as well. The guard arrives at the fire exit, sees it open, and tries to pull it closed. When the debris of tiles catches it, he grunts and reaches into the stairwell area to try and shove the debris out. Fletcher slams the debris on the Personality's head, knocking the man out. As the two quickly divie up what they could (an ID card, a pistol, the radio, and a flashlight), Clark hogties him down with his own necktie. The two hear a distant phone ringing, and remember Control tends to contact agents via Hard Line. Clark hurries off to find which door has the phone, while Fletcher checks the body for anything else. He feels a bump, around the thigh area, but it seemingly vanishes. As he checks further to the leg area, he feels it for a moment, near the knee, but again it squirms away. Fletcher rips the guy's boot off to see something leaping away like a lizard. With a quick slam of his own foot, Fletcher squashes the reptile, only to discover its inner workings are made of gears, wires and chips. A machine!
1) Locate Personality Petrov
2) Disable Personality Petrov
3) Acquire Reptile
4) Requisition Lacuna Device
5) Meet with Agent Mason at roofdeck.
Fletcher confirms the guard's name is Petrov, but is fascinated by the gearbox lizard. He finds small glass vials in the lizard's head area, containing a purplish white fluid. He pockets the lizard after wrapping it in cloth. Clark requisitions for a submachine gun, which is delivered via the bathroom medicine cabinet. He then hands the phone to Fletcher who is told Snyder has requisitioned for him a phone, which then appears in his left pocket. Fletcher requisitions then for a shot gun. But when Fletcher moves to retrieve it from under the bed, he finds a folder strapped to it as well. Intel from Control confirms around thirty Hostile Personalities in the area. Clark motions to Fletcher that someone is coming, and they soon hear the footfalls of two more guards walking down the corridor, perhaps calling for Petrov.
|The content of the folder.|
The two confirm having accomplished four of the five items, given the security guard they knocked down happened to have an ID that stated his name is Petrov. Clark ponders, however, if the Lacuna Device they found happens to be owned by the Mystery Agent they were to meet. They reach the stairs and hear from the radio that the Hostile Personalities who happened to be working for "the Company" are making their way to chase after them. They rush upstairs, finding the exit to the twentieth floor blocked by an industrial strength flash light propped against the door like a wooden plank, and as they exit to the roof deck, find a bleeding Mystery Agent on the gravel. Approaching carefully, the agent demands that they identify themselves, and Clark flashes his Lacuna device, but refuses to give his name. Fletcher trains his weapon at the man and asks for the man to give his. "Agent Currier," the man explains, but when its clear blood is oozing from his chest, Clark rushes to help him out. Fletcher takes the opportunity to scan the roof deck and note that given the two air circulation vents on the roof deck, it would be strategically useful for him to remain behind the shed of the door, to shoot those that step out.
Clark administers first aid to Agent Currier, who shows his old Lacuna Device and admits, "The new ones are more portable, but don't show you your heart rate that easily.. Not to mention, are coded to your DNA..." Clark can only do so much however, and Currier admits he has to Eject before he dies on the Slab. "Your ally would be Agent Mason. We were trying to map things out for you, but he may have been compromised. The exit is at the next building. There is a yellow door.."
Fletcher warns them the Company is on its way, and Clark and Currier duck behind one of the vents. As Fletcher trains his shotgun at the security forces that arrive, he notes they've split in three to approach the two vents. He takes aim on the left most group. Clark trains his pistol at the right most group, and hopes to move fast enough to stop the third group. Currier, not wanting to die on the Slab, Ejects.
Gunfire. Fletcher and Clark dispatch their groups, but as the third group trains to shoot at Fletcher and kill him, gunfire erupts from the doorway, and the security forces fall dead. Fletcher and Clark see another Mystery Agent, who holds a gun trained at Clark, and demands they show their Lacuna devices. When told to show his, the man admits, "Lost mine downstairs. I presume you have it? My name is Agent Mason."
Deciding to trust him, given the Mission parameters, the three rush to the next building and make their way to the inside to search for the yellow door. Clouds gather above and rain begins to fall as they land on the roof deck, but when more Company security appears on that very roof deck, they grab the nearest line and throw themselves to swing around and smash through a window one floor below them. Tumbling inside, Clark drops his Lacuna device, and Mason picks it up. Mason then trains a gun at them and tells them to give up their Lacuna devices. "There's no point fighting them," Mason explains, "Not when they are just extensions of..." he stops talking however, and demands the two drop their weapons. "Drop them, and I'll explain it all." He threatens to Eject Clark, and as he speaks, the two see something moving underneath his skin. "He's been Compromised," Fletcher admits, and his mind wanders to the sheet of paper taped to the shotgun. For a moment the three are at a stand-off, with Mason threatening to Eject Clark forcibly if he does not comply.
When Mason's bluff is called however, Mason presses the button, only to be the one shunted away in an Eject! Clark had switched the devices earlier and Mason had just thrown himself out of the Blue City. Quickly rushing down the corridor for the yellow door, Fletcher finds the door and opens it while Clark keeps watch. Fletcher steps through the yellow door and finds himself in a different location. Thousands of people are applauding as he walks a long red carpet. Massive chandeliers hang from the ceiling. People in animal masks clap as they nod and approve of his arrival. A voice over declares, "Finally, the truth has come to set you free" and Fletcher sees a priest with a pigeon's face giving him a final blessing, then a beautiful woman in a red dress welcoming him with a smile, "Now that you are here, we can bring this whole thing to an end."
Clark does not see Fletcher return. Having stepped through the yellow door way, Clark realizes the darkness in the room is so intense, Fletcher can no longer be seen. Before he can follow, he spies a cellular phone on the ground, which has a blinking SMS. Reading it, the message reads: Do not step through the door - KIRA.
Fletcher talks to the Scarlet Woman, who tells him yes this is all a dream. That yes, his role in the Company is over. That yes, none of them were aware of what they were signed into. And yes, that just maybe people like him deserve a second chance. Fletcher almost gives into the Scarlet Woman, and he looks back to see no sign of Clark.
Clark reads more warning messages on the phone, and as he steps through the doorway, he discovers some barrier forces the cellular phone to remain outside. To step through would mean dropping the phone. To step back would mean reading the messages. Clark then realizes the text could only be read in the other side. He feels uncertain on whether or not to step through. "You have been compromised! Eject! - KIRA"
Fletcher questions the woman on whether this is all real, and almost as if in response, he starts to see the background and far walls unfurl like part of a studio set. He starts to see people dressed like the crew of a television show prompting the other people to do their parts. And finally, he sees the archway he came from merely has a green screen on it. "Just take my hand and I will show you the truth. Show you everything that is really truly happening."
Clark does not want to leave his friend. But realizes there is far too much danger to stay. He yells at Fletcher to Eject, and knowing he too is in danger, opts to do so. Clark opens his eyes on the Slab. Doctors monitor his progress, and when they realize he's awakened, they send him back to sleep.
Fletcher opens his eyes to find himself in Recruitment. Registration smiles at him and explains, "You are Candidate A. You will be assigned a Pseudonym." Fletcher inwardly things, "It will be Fletcher" and true enough, that name is given. The door opens and Clark steps through. Clark does not seem to recognize Fletcher at all, which bothers him. Clark seems excited to take the mission. Fletcher can only wonder what exactly they are all really signed into. What is the Company? And why are they Mystery Agents? And lastly, who benefits from all this.