I Feel the Earth Move
Cas looked up at Draav and back to the entry room. “You know this means someone has already beaten us here, right? Sentinels don’t use protective laser grids.”
“The Galactic Council requires that all Sentinel sites are cataloged. Did you happen to mention to your client that failure to report a Sentinel site is in violation of Galactic Decree 47?” asked Draav.
Cas turned around and walked into the entry room. “I didn’t know what they found until I got here.”
Draav motioned to his team to secure Cas. “If you wanted to keep exploring Sentinel sites, why did you leave the Service?”
Cas looks around the entry room. Nothing extremely out of the ordinary, although the architectural features in this room are grander than usual.
“I was not here looking for a site - I’m looking for a group of people employed by the Namiko Mining Corp. You didn’t happen to run into a group of three humans?”
By now the two members of the Xenohistory Service brandishing lethal weapons at Cas have made it clear that they would like his journey into the site to end here.
“Draav, I am going to need to confirm that the missing people are not in here. It is possible these folks are in over their head — part of being in the Service is to protect these sites and to protect people from them.”
Draav considers and motions to the two Service members to lower their weapons. “No games, Cas.”
The group proceeds deeper into the site. Cas notices many decorations and glyphs that imply that this site had some navigational importance to the Sentinels. Upon entering a large circular room, Cas notices a central Sentinel computer terminal installation. Draav’s team eagerly moves to document the panels and interfaces which are covered in glyphs. Cas walks over to the console and before anyone can stop him he presses a large metal button. A voice reverberates throughout the room. Mutating and changing through different vocal patterns before finally settling on the language shared by Cas and everyone else in the room. A hologram of a face glitches into view. Cas feels an odd source of energy humming through his own body.
“What is your question?” says a calm, soft voice.
Cas turns to Draav and raises an eyebrow. No one has ever seen an image of a Sentinel before. The head is elongated with a pair of eyes extended out to the sides from the lower half. There is a mouth. It looks somewhat amphibian.
“Where can I get a cup of coffee around here?” jokes Cas.
“I cannot say.” the voice replies.
Cas throws up his hands, while Draav shakes his head. “Boyd, take a crack at this please.”
Boyd is a tall, wiry human with long fingers. Boyd pulls out a scanner and runs it over the console. Cas already knows that the scanner output will be useless. Boyd then walks up to the hologram and asks “What is the purpose of this facility?”
“Access denied. Subject does not match the profile.”
Everyone turns and looks at each other as if it trying to figure out who should fit the profile. The mental evaluations end when another voice breaks the silence.
“You are wasting your time, boys.”
Cas notes that yet another person taller than him has joined the entourage. This one has long reddish blonde hair and a sharp chin. Tightly manicured eyebrows wrap around their wide, determined eyes. On their suit is a name-badge reading “Karin” and in their hand is a military grade assault rifle. Two more people in matching suits fill in behind them.
“Tie up the Service folks, Olumide but leave that one to me” orders missing research team lead Natascha Karin while the other research team member holds up a very lethal looking carbine at the group.
“This is possibly the easiest the missing person case I’ve worked yet. Normally you don’t come to me.” joked Cas.
“Turns out you are the missing person, Cas. Only you can unlock this thing.”
“I’m not sure I follow, …Ms? … Karin?” Cas has long since learned to not assume anyone’s gender … or well anything at this point in galactic history.
“Go ahead, ask the machine to ‘turn on the beacon’.”
Draav struggles against his restraints. “What is the meaning of all this? Who are you?”
Natascha walks over to Draav. She runs a finger under his chin and then up over his scar. “I’m the one who is two steps ahead of you.” Natascha grips Draav’s head and pulls it towards one of her knees leaving a light trail of blood dripping from Draav’s nose.
A bemused Cas watches the scene unfold and he wonders if helping Natascha squarely puts him in “the baddies” group. At least the Namiko logo isn’t a skull. Approaching the hologram, Cas asks “I wonder if you could turn on the beacon?”
It only takes a second for a series of events to happen. A series of ceilings above each other open up and large rod extends from the ground into the sky through the opening. A purple light shoots up the rod and from the rod it extends out. Cas thinks that the light may be extending not outwards into space but instead across the planet’s surface.
Natascha approaches Cas and pulls out a dark black obelisk from a saddle bag. It is not uniformly shaped but flat and features several sharply cut angles.
“Yeah, I’ve seen what happened to your buddy Trorank and I want no part of that.”
“Dr. Trorank was consumed by his curiosity. You on the other hand are the curiosity. You can understand this.”
Draav burst up from sitting and knocks over the guarding Olumide. Natascha turns and fires her gun at Draav but Cas is surprised to see a stun blast hit Draav rather than a searing plasma bolt. Olumide stands up and regains his carbine that had been knocked from his hand.
“The obelisk seems to bring out the worst in us.” Natascha makes a hand motions that seems to include everyone but Cas.
“Look, I don’t know you and I don’t know what you think you know about me but I’ve never seen this object in my life.”
“Well, maybe you’ve never seen it in this life. Here, catch!” Natascha tosses the obelisk at Cas who hesitates but tries to catch it. As it touches his hands a series of glyphs are exposed over his body but unlike the scars left on Dr. Trorank these glyphs glow and then fade from Cas. Momentarily Cas thinks the obelisk is shaking in his hands but then realizes the ground beneath him is shaking. It dawns on him that he is shaking it.
“Hey, that’s a new one. The last person popped into another dimension and I haven’t seen them since.”
Cas is a mixture of confused, angry, and curious. “The last one? How many others have you tried this thing on?”
“You are number 8, though to be fair you are only the third subject to survive.”
Natascha’s team start to form up on her command. “Now, we go find your destiny Mr, Neros. There’s even a bright shiny light pointing the way.”
Cas looks up and out at the sky. The glyphs, the light, the power in him are all connected but why? how? Natascha may be a baddie but maybe the obelisk is taking a toll on her. Perhaps she can be saved, or at least Cas can stop her from testing out anyone else with a Sentinel artifact that clearly needs to be reigned in.
I spent a Decreasing Rep D6 die to “Sweet Talk” during my Interaction with Draav. Interaction is an opposed roll and it is not uncommon for those two rolls to cancel each other out leaving you with a “NPC will ignore you” result.
I had Boyd make a Savvy challenge and they failed, hard. Matching sixes on the die. I decided that was a good prompt for a random event and rolled an Action+Theme from Starforged. That came up as “Crime Scheme” which I found amusing. Between this session and the last Cas had already amassed enough clues at this point to “Find” the missing person. I did a simple 1d6 oracle roll (4+ = Yes) to ask the GM “Is the research team behind the crime scheme?” and got a 6 “yes” (If I only could roll so many sixes in my other games.) Such a strong “yes” suggested to me that this plot was much bigger - these folks had lured Cas here based on some knowledge they had… someone else knows Cas’ has Sentinel-connected psionic powers? It made sense to turn the “Find” quest on its head and say that really they were looking for (luring out?) Cas.
Upon making a successful Challenge task to catch the obelisk I rolled up a Starforged action & theme to figure what would happen with a result of “Acquire Culture.” To me this suggested what the story has hinted at all long - Cas has some form of Sentinel powers inside of him. I used the “creature abilities” table from Mythic Magazine 18 and got a word pair of “Disrupt Environment.” That’s how Cas got a telekinetic power that allows him to do things like shift the ground from under his feet.
With this Larger Than Life “Find” Story over I’ll have to decide whether to continue this storyline or try my hand at 5150 New Beginnings or Starforged again.