SESSION: June 19th, 2013
CHARACTERS: Alistair, Douglas, Felicity
SETTING: Christmas morning, 1996. Stepping through the iron door…
Reluctantly stepping through the door, the characters find themselves transported to a city overgrown with trees and foliage. It takes several moments for them to realise that they are standing in the street in front of the pawnshop, though it is obvious some great amount of time has passed by.
Looking about, there is no grim reaper, nor any door like the one they passed through. In fact, most doors have been covered or grown through or replaced by plant life of one sort or another.
There are no signs of civilisation; no sounds, either, other than a briefly heard barking of a dog.
They cut their way into the pawn shop, and begin exploring. Doug sees remnants in his room that confirm he was still the last occupant of the room. Felicity realises that the state of some of his possessions doesn’t support the amount of time that would have passed by for the trees and foliage to consume the city the way they have.
The pawn shop is all but completely filled with overgrowth, vines and even some trees. The only area that isn’t is the basement, which seems to have been somehow protected – there almost seems to be a barrier that extends the border of the basement, that no plant dared cross.
In the basement, Doug opens the safe and finds Mr. Smythe’s tablet, as well as some papers (the latest dated summer/fall of 1997) and jewelry. The basement is full of various items, some familiar to the group (having spent some time in the basement mere hours ago), but many not.
Douglas takes the tablet and jewels and the group departs. They decide to head towards *Joie*’s garage as it isn’t terribly far. Even so, it takes almost an hour to get there, as they must navigate streets filled with trees, debris from buildings and even burned husks of vehicles and strewn pieces of cars and trucks. There are skeletal remains of people all about – it seems there was a great massacre.
En route to Joie’s, Felicity spies a newspaper machine and extricates a copy. The date of the paper is October 15th, 1997. There are no headlines to suggest that whatever happened was expected. The only source of concern is a brief article detailing a vicious assault in a park. Eyewitnesses give varying descriptions from “a giant ape” to “a brutish, hirsute man”, suggesting that the Dark Men are still active in the city after all.
Several storefronts are explored and raided for supplies – they are surprised to find a lot less was looted than they had expected and soon have some food supplies and other essentials. As they move through the streets, they keep looking for signs of the skyscrapers of Manhattan, but they are not visible, suggesting that perhaps they collapsed.
As they walk, Felicity attempts to reach back through the past, trying to mind link with her father, but the winds of time are too much for her to do without proper meditation and focus. She decides to try again, later, when she has the time to make such preparations.
At Joie’s, they find more of the same – overgrowth everywhere, structural damage, overturned vehicles or ones that seem to have been torn apart. In the parking lot, a corpse is found, wearing the cut of The Mongols. From the patch on it reading “PRESIDENT”, it is obvious that it must be Mason.
Felicity touches the skeletal remains, trying to read something, anything. She gets the last moments of Mason’s life.
Mason, along with several other Mongols, stand in Joie’s parking lot. All about, there is chaos. Power is out in most areas, there are large fires burning. People and creatures run about, fighting, killing, screaming. People and creatures fly about, raining death in the form of bolts of fire or lightning or dropping heavy objects – rocks, benches, cars and more – from above.
Suddenly, there is motion. A Dark Man charges into the parking lot and attacks Mason. A flurry of strikes pummel the leader of the biker gang, and though his men open fire on the creature, it seems to do no good.
Mason’s last sight was the face of the Dark Man that beat him to death. The face that was unmistakably *Alistair*’s.
Instinctively, Felicity reaches out and grabs Alistair’s hand and makes a mind link with him. She shares this vision with him, then breaks the link and lets go of his hand.
The Irishman backs away from her, from Doug, from the skeletal remains, “No, no, no,” he murmurs, horrified at what he saw. Doug tries to calm him down, but he’s too shaken up. Felicity is forced to manipulate him, to instill a sense of calm in him to battle the fight or flight reaction.
They fill Doug in on what was seen and Alistair tells them to explore inside, but he remains outside, his thoughts full of this and his dream of his brother becoming a Dark Man… and his brother’s dream of Alistair becoming one.
Inside, three more dead Mongols are found. No sign of Joie anywhere, but Felicity sees and collects a few items that are obviously Mojo’s.
Outside, Alistair scouts the perimeter. More distracted or not, he sees what is immediately in front of him, rather than what is not. What he sees first are the ravaged docks all about. Some are completely gone, most are anywhere between half and two-thirds gone.
Then, his attention extends beyond the immediate. He looks across the water… and sees that the island of Manhattan is completely gone. Not just the skyscrapers, but the entire island. It is all water and a mass of plants floating on the surface, like some miniature Sargasso Sea.
Felicity and Douglas exit, having found nothing else of importance inside. When Alistair calls for them to join him around the back, they too, are shocked at the absence of Manhattan.
Hurt, frightened, confused, they agree it is time to head back to the safety of the basement in the pawnshop.
Once there, Douglas (still wounded from the fight with the Dark Man under the streets of Manhattan) lays down, using the tablet as a pillow. A faint glow, visible to Felicity but not to Alistair, enshrouds him and he is asleep within moments. She tries to slide the tablet out from beneath him, but it seems unwilling to be moved.
Felicity begins meditating and then attempts, again, to contact her father. She reaches back to 1997, but is unable to find him in latter October. She finally makes contact with him on October 6th, 1997. He is still in Antarctica, at the dig.
They communicate and she explains what is happening. To his credit, he seems to be able to accept much of this already – it seems that whatever has happened thus far in 1997, Morgan Jaiden is able to accept this wild story at face value.
Unfortunately, he has no awareness of any events that might lead up to this. He encourages her to find out more, and helps her separate the Dark Men and the massive plant acceleration/overgrowth as two distinct issues that, if they are related, must be indirectly so.
While talking to him, she learns that he met Diego at her 21st birthday party – something that did not happen in the timeline that our characters are from – Diego was separated in time from the group weeks before the party happened!
When the link is broken, Felicity passes out, exhausted by her efforts.
Alistair is left to watch over the two of them as they both sleep through the night. The evening passes by without event, though at one point, Alistair does hear the barking of a dog from the street level.
Douglas awakes, fully healed from his wounds, apparently by the tablet. He and Felicity awake at the same exact moment, startling Alistair.
Felicity relates the details of her conversation with her father to the two men. They agree that they have to go to the surface again and think that searching for the dog might be a good idea. Once they get on the street, they find the dog waiting for them.
Felicity mentally links with Dog, who says that his friends have sent him to find “the dead men and the girl from a far away place”. Felicity assures Dog that her associates are not dead, though Dog points out that Alistair smells “funny, in a bad way”.
They follow Dog, who leads them to where his friends (Lea, Sara, Damon and Lyander) are waiting, only to find them under attack by animated vines! Douglas and Dog leap forward to help out, while Alistair and Felicity hold back at first, but soon join in assisting in the freeing of the four from the attack of the vines.
The fight is quick, the adults using machetes to fend off the vines, while the boy emits a burst of light from his hands that burns one of the clusters of vines. With Felicity and Alistair joining in, the vines are beaten and everyone is freed. They quickly realise that the teenager, Lyander, has pointed ears like Felicity – and the other three, while seeming human, can see her ears with no problem. The boy was injured in the fight, suffering broken ribs, but Felicity heals most of his injuries, something that surprises him.
Lyander claims that he’s an elf, and the adults say that he’s the only one like him they’ve ever met, until now. When they ask Felicity if she’s an elf, she isn’t sure how to respond. Douglas asks if Lyander is a Sidhe, and there’s a comical moment when Lyander, offended, replies, “No, I’m a he!”
(It was funny, shut up.)
After introductions and the like are made, the inevitable question of “What happened” is asked. The only one who was old enough to have been an adult was Lea, who was a young schoolteacher in Iowa in the middle of October 1997, when strange things started being reported from New York City. She begins telling the tale as the group heads back to the safety of the pawnshop.
It started off as an outbreak of violence, battles between strangely powered individuals. People flying, shooting bolts of fire and lighting at each other, throwing cars, pieces of buildings at each other and at innocent bystanders.
In a matter of days, the numbers of those involved in the fracas tripled, quadrupled, multiplied by tenfold, fiftyfold. The death toll increased – dozens to hundreds to thousands. Police were overwhelmed, so the military was mobilised. The island of Manhattan was cordoned off, surrounded.
Then the reports stopped, at least from official sources. On the internet, there were claims that the military began firing on the city, shelling entire neighborhoods. Speculations that the death toll had reached over one million people and was still counting!
Then, in the latter days of October (various sources claimed a variety days, though more than a few insisted it was on Halloween Day), all communication and information ceased. Then, information was coming in from everywhere.
Unbelievably, it seemed that the island of Manhattan had been sunk and a giant… well, a giant monster had risen and was moving across the nation, leaving destruction in its wake. No two reports could agree on the creature – some said it was a mass of worms or snakes, others said a giant blocky creature made of stone. Others reported seeing a thing of smoke and fire that smelled of brimstone. And more variations – insects, nothingness, shadow, tentacles, and so on.
The military of the United States (and later, other nations) tried in vain to destroy the creature. They threw everything against it, including low-yield nuclear weapons, but nothing would stop it.
And then, when the creature was nearly at the west coast of the United States, something changed. The landscape turned against the creature. Every plant seemed to come to life, attacking the creature. The plants were animated, seemingly intelligent, or at least directed by some force, turning against the creature. Trees, vines, flowers, shrubs, weeds, every bit of foliage and flora turned against the creature and managed to do what the militaries could not do – they destroyed the creature, preventing it from reaching the Pacific Ocean.
But, unfortunately for humankind, the plants were animated, and they were not returning to their previous state. And they were aggressive. And they were hungry.
30 years had passed since that October, since the island of Manhattan sunk. Since the giant monster had traveled across the land, killing millions as it did so, destroying cities. Three decades since the plants came to life and attacked and destroyed the monster… and then began to attack and feed on humanity.
Now, only small tribes of people remained. Lyander had a dream that if he came to the city, the site of where it all began, that they would learn something. That they would meet “three dead men and a girl from a far-away place” here. Lyander’s dreams were not to be ignored, they had learned over the past few years, so when he dreamt it, Lea agreed to lead a small group there. There had been five (six counting Dog), but one of them had gone off earlier, taking care of some “personal business”.
When they name him, Alistair can’t help but be shocked, though there is no way his great-great-grand-uncle Seamus could still be alive, after all this time and all the chaos… could he?