Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Folding Window : Flux (Night's Black Agents, Cat, Dungeon World)

09/27/2013
The Folding Window
Flux

Held a one-shot Friday and had two players who were free.  BJ was a good friend of mine who has been an active gamer for quite some time.  Eric was a new friend who was about to play under me for the very first time.  Eric was a young gamer who had yet to experience the many gaming options that exist out there.  So I was kind of torn on what games to run for him.

Then I recalled John Wick's Flux.
And it all fell into place.

Under the guise of just getting them exposed to other games, I introduced them first to Dungeon World and had them create a character each.  Eric created a Thief.  BJ created a Bard.  After they were curious to how the game would go, I then collected the sheets and told them about a different game.  This time, I handed them character sheets for John Wick's Cat game.   Eric created Mister Cuddles, a cat who was a seducer, territorial and fatherly.  BJ created Fluffybunch, a cat who was composed, well-read and unseen.  The two were taught the basics of the game's system, were amused at its elegance, then were told to surrender the sheets.

And finally I handed them sheets for Night's Black Agents. After explaining the premise, the two were creating their concepts.

Eric opted for Jean Claude Dumas, 30 years old.
Employer: NATO (Special Division)
Drive: Atonement
Symbol: Blood-stained white flag. (Little girl he shot)
Solace: Mother (Hometown of Paris)
Safety: Bedroom. Childhood home.

While BJ decided to portray Nash Rogers, 35 years old.
Employer: CIA
Drive: Altruism (not want kids involved)
Symbol: Nintendo Controller, no cord. (Innocence)
Solace: Emily (Ex from Grad School, Decent terms)
Safety: Massachusetts. First condo unit. Building now abandoned.

The scene opens with a chase, with dusk fast approaching.  In their maneuverable military jeep, Rogers was at the wheel and brought their vehicle closer and closer to the target's truck.   They were at Cuba and bullets were flying.  Jean sees one of the targets draw out an RPG and finds himself leaping to the Jeep's side to get ready to leap onto the truck.

The Arab targets had stolen the suitcase.  The suitcase contained something called The Folding Window.  And the two were trying to get it back.

With his training fueling his leap, Jean lands on the truck, grabs the rocket propelled grenade launcher, and smacks it against the other Arab's face.    He looks up at Rogers, who is trailing behind, and yells "Ram him," trusting him to do it correctly.

The truck spins, giving Jean  the momentum needed to throw another Arab off the truck.  When the vehicle skids to a stop, Jean finds the target drawing the suitcase out, and threatening to destroy it.  Jean jumps him, and the suitcase is accidentally thrown into the air.

"Please... stop.." the leader of the Arabs pleads.  Everything seems to move in slow motion.

In the gap between seconds, Nash Rogers recalls his meeting earlier that day with M.   The two discussed the importance of the Window.  How it was believed to relate to "Nymphs"  How it was referred to by others as the Narcissus window or the Window of Sleep.  He recalls the rumors about how it supposedly was some kind of biological bomb that could imperfections away.  Or at least claimed to.  And would leave things as fragile as porcelain.    When Rogers questioned why M would assume he would be interested in this mission, she nonchalantly explained, "The drop is happening at an Elementary School in a dangerous location."  Roger realizes she was prodding him to action, knowing he would never be able to ignore the possibility of children being at risk.    He recalls the tentacled horror he once faced with at Marrakesh and decides to do something about the Window.  If he doesn't, who will.

In the same gap between seconds, Jean Claude Dumas recalls his meeting with Emannuelle Minue, his former boss.  She tells him about the Folding Window and how it may just be the first world's working teleporter.    An unnamed Arab had been detected to be making plans to steal the objective.  Minue tasked Dumas to intercept it first.  When Dumas pushed for more intel on the opposing group, Minue admitted the group was not one of the bigger players.  Most likely an independent group.  But it was being spearheaded by Viktor Arganto, Minue and Dumas' former superior whom had detected.

*

A woman sets her sniper rifle at the top of the Archo, a 5-storey building overlooking the piazza.  She peers through the scope and sets aim at the back of Dumas' head.   She offers a hint of a smile as she slides her finger to the trigger.

She is known as La Giocondo.  Her smile matches the Mona Lisa's.

*

Gunshot.  Arganto falls dead and the two others drop out of sight behind the vehicles for cover.  Rogers recalls the Archo building and realizes its the best place a sniper would be poised.  He informs Dumas of its location and tries to draw the sniper's attention by standing visibly in view.   Surprisingly, the sniper does not fire.  And soon it becomes apparent why as police cards close in on their location.  Dumas and Rogers split up, with Roger heading off to find the sniper and Dumas moving to bring the suitcase to the extraction point.

But that's when things start to go crazy.

The two begin to have flashes where they see the world differently.  In one incarnation, they are cats, in a massive house where other cats question their actions.   It takes Dumas a lot of focus to remember that the orange tabby named Guillermo was the policeman earlier who asked him to hand over the suitcase.   Rogers struggles with his own memories.  He remembers vaguely walking into an alleyway and finding some old man offering him some young girls to "use as he wanted."  Rogers recalls shooting the man, and telling the children to run.

But now, he stared at his fur-covered paws and clambers up the nearby truck.  He sees a window and through it, he sees another cat.  A familiar one, talking to a kitten.

*

Roger has a brief recollection of talking to some kitten, when another flash hits.    He stares at the dwarven child in front of him who asks him if he can take him to safety.  Roger stares at his hands and ponders on why they are women's hands.  He stares at the musical books tied to his waist, and looks up to see a familiar thief coming face to face with a elven ranger.  They, however are too far for him to get to.

The thief twists at the last second and pins the ranger against the wall.  She throws him questions about the Fallen City of the Dunes and demands for his name.    The two exchange blows, with neither landing a clear one against the other.   The ranger threatens him, claiming to know a secret he dared not share to anyone.  "Halycon," she mutters, and the thief falters, though he fails to recall the meaning of the word.  The dwarf forces his mind through the odd memories and recalls he is Nash Rogers.  He sees the ranger is actually La Gioconda and shoots her to stop her.   Dumas stares at her dead body, now realizing what the word meant: Halycon was where his mother lived.  She was being held hostage.   The two suspect the suitcase may be causing these hallucinations and quickly get to the extraction point, board the boat, and get into international waters.  There, Rogers realizes Dumas plans to surrender the case to his superiors, so he slides a tracer instead and allows Dumas to go.

He knows they willl meet again in the future.

*

Weeks later, Dumas is at the cafe and finds himself waiting for Emmanuelle who never shows up.  The waiters draw semi-automatic weapons and open fire, and Dumas finds temporary shelter by kicking the metal table to its side and hiding behind it.

A phone call.  Dumas flicks it on and hears the voice of Rogers in the other end.  He tells him that he has been double crossed and that it would be best he follow his instructions.  Dumas, however, did not come unprepared, and has a little gift he had left behind for himself:   A submachine gun under the seat.  Shooting his way to freedom, he runs down the alley Rogers instructs him to, and finds a van waiting for him.

Rogers helps him in and the two drive of.

They aren't certain of why Dumas' people had betrayed him, but they knew they had to stick together to work things out in the end.  And the suitcase?  Dumas made sure it would not fall in anyone's hands.  As the explosion rocked the cafe behind them, Rogers realized what M meant when she told him, "Dumas will work with you.  That is assured."

Roger realized M had papers in her hand.  And on one sheet, the mission parameter was marked: Successful.  The location:  Halycon.

It was a secret he was to keep from Dumas from that point on.
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