The Plural of Apocalypse

Distress

3/11

We return to the yacht, drenched and exhausted, but relatively unharmed. Not long after, we all gather in the usual place to have one of our conference calls with Tbell. We soon realize this is going to be an especially serious and strange call, even for us.

“A year ago, something happened. What exactly it was, I have not yet discovered, but most certainly whatever it was changed the world.”

“Most medical sources have reported that some disease has spread randomly throughout the world, originating in India, that causes people to die by profuse vomiting of blood. This is not in the least bit true. What has caused these reports is an even stranger phenomenon. All humans who die, from whatever source, vomit blood upon the moment of their death. This occurs even if there is no wound that would cause such vomiting. It seems to simply be something like a new law of nature.”

“The strangeness does not end there. Some beings, many of which seem to be human at first glance, show their deaths by other means. Turning to dust. Burning to ash. Exhaling white vapor. Shattering into glassy shards. So far, the incidences of these other deaths are rare, but they are on the rise. More importantly, they are almost invariably associated with attacks by what can only be described as monsters.”

“For months after the pattern emerged, I believed the truth of this change was a mere illusion. But thanks to your efforts, it has now been confirmed. Thanks to the software backdoor installed in the IS network, we have learned that they are a conglomeration of rich people who believe as I do; that the world is under assault from strange creatures that would change the very nature of society if they were merely known about, let alone became dominant.”

“The IS is determined to preserve the world as it currently is. Or destroy it so that the monsters don’t take it from us.”

“The IS categorize 4 factions of monsters. The Devourers, who call themselves the Farmers; those who must feed upon humanity to survive. The Dark Divine, who call themselves the Ivory Tower; those who use religion and faith to control humanity. The Magus, who call themselves the Library; those who have sought ways to trade their humanity for power. And the Nihil, who call themselves the Maelstrom; those who simply seek destruction and pain.”

“I know one thing that the IS does not. I know of an expedition to a place in Africa rumored to have been the cradle of humanity, the garden of Eden. I know that a year ago, an american occultist and archaeologist travelled there in search of a powerful artifact believed to date to the earliest of human civilizations. Or even earlier. I know that just before the Zero Date, when the Blood Death began, there were reports of an unusual shaft of light splitting the sky, that then was surrounded by an unseasonable thunderstorm. Since that night and that storm, nothing has been the same.”

“I have three assignments for you. You can complete them in any order, but all three are critical to the future of the world.”

“You must locate the professor. You must locate the artifact. You must examine the location where the professor found the artifact, to learn any clues you can about what it is, and what it has done.”

We decide to investigate regarding the missing professor. We learn that he was last seen entering a men’s room in the LAX airport; but not coming back out.

Tbell provides access to the airport security footage, and after careful scrutiny, we realize that the man did exit the bathroom but disguised so thoroughly we actually didn’t recognize him as much as recognized that the man was not one of the people that first entered the bathroom.

We track his path out of the airport and see where he finally left the overview of the airport’s surveillance system.

Jack realizes that he has a crime contact in the area and he decides to hit them up. Through a stroke of luck, Jason happens to know exactly who we’re talking about and knows that the police have been staking out a house in the high desert. We decide to go there.

We arrive and try to scope out the place, but after being unable to learn anything from the outside, seeing as all windows are shuttered and heavily tinted, we go to the front door and knock. No one answers and after a few tense moments, we open the door. Skewered to the door by a knife, we find the first of several dead policemen.

As we move through the house, we find several more policemen, each killed by blades; one was hidden in the fridge, another in a chest freezer, and the final stuffed into a closet. Each shows that they vomited blood directly where they lay or nearby. Grisly though it may be, we haven’t learned much.

To try and get an image of exactly what happened and who killed these men, Drake decides to try and peer back to the time of their deaths. However, instead of conjuring images from the past, he is instead greeted through his looking glass by the professor they’re looking for. The professor tells him that “you’re in the right place, but you need to look harder.” Unsuccessfully looking through time, he decides to try and look through the walls and other materials of the home. After some searching, he realizes that there is a woman hiding under a bed. He calls her out to the rest of the team.

Terrwyn crawls under the bed, and after some gentle coaxing, she gets her to answer a question; who did this. She answers that it was “Black Daggers”. She shuts down a lot at that point, but Terrwyn manages to get her out of the house and out to the van along with Mason and Jack.

Drake and Philix lagged behind, and at the encouragement of Philix, Drake tried once more to peer back to the time of death for these men. This time, he is able to successfully conjure the images. He sees the woman they’ve found walking up to the door, knocking, the policeman who answers being annoyed to see her at the door, and then surprised & horrified when she stabs him with so much force that he is pinned to the wall.

Her nature revealed, Drake teleports into the van and freeze the woman. Surprisingly, she breaks free of the first volley of ice for the most part and starts to lunge for Drake with a hidden knife. Mason stops her but the blade cuts through his cheek. A cramped melee ensues, but then Jack casts a paralysis spell and we’re able to subdue her, remove her from the van, and then Philix knocks her out.

As we’re about to load her back into the van, so we can interrogate her somewhere more private, a black and unmarked helicopter comes into view in the distance. Philix then receives a phone call from the IS, who inform him that they would like to take the woman off our hands. After a brief parley, we agree to let them have her after we’ve had a chance to question her.

Drake surrounds the party in an ice fortress, securing the woman’s ice prison to its foundations, and we rouse her from her slumber. Terrwyn took the lead with the interrogation. She asked who the woman had come to kill, to which she replied that she “didn’t come to kill anyone; they came here to be killed by me.”

Meanwhile, Jack dug into his experiences to try and identify what kind of monster she is and how to deal with her; everything he knows lending to the action of killing her and immediately. He passed this information along to Terrwyn, who then used her shadow powers to, with a fair amount of effort, remove the woman’s head from her body.

Our erstwhile truce surely about to end, Jack then went outside and shot a tracking dart onto the IS chopper. Basically immediately, the chopper then lost control and and started to plummet to the earth. Drake managed to create a ramp of ice, and cushion of snow, in order to catch the helicopter. In the process of doing so, Drake sensed another hand at work; his own magic, or hand, “brushing” against this other force.

Almost immediately two things happen. First, Philix calls TBell to give her a status update and advise she can maybe collect the helicopter wreckage to learn more about The IS. Secondly, the professor shows up; just walking down the street.

We pick him up in the van and talk for a short while. The man has an otherworldly and very cryptic nature to him. Each answer raising more questions than they answer; obviously layered in meaning. As we talk, we realize that the last year has taken quite the toll on the man. He seems to be 10 years older compared to photographs we had of him from just a year ago.

It takes some prodding, and a little interpretation, but we learn some important thing about the nature of things and the state of the world today.

For example, as we had already seen in general, the occurrence of monsters has increased greatly. Most recently, people that are dying and vomiting blood are actually unwitting participants in a type of ritual. See, in order to become a monster you must die. At the crucial moment, you make a choice, though it may not be a conscious one: to live on as a monster or to die. Most people choose to simply die; but enough, however small a fraction, choose to live and are growing the ranks of monsters around the world daily.

We then go on to question him about the artifact he found in Africa. To which he gives us a series of pictures of different objects that, if he is to be believed, are in fact the same object and the artifact in question. The artifact has at least 5 different forms, that the professor has observed, and he has pictures of each form. The professor also says it must take different forms to perform different functions.

We talk briefly about some of the same classifications of monsters that we talked about with Tbell; which prompts him to try and classify us. He struggles with it for a short time, as we are neither monsters nor normal humans. However, he decides to classify us as ‘heroes’ for now. The fate of the world in the balance, the professor says he will help us and accompany us to where he found the artifact.

The agents in the chopper not having extracted themselves already, we go over to the crashed helicopter. A pull on the door reveals that it is frozen shut. Drake, with some difficulty and delay, manages to unfreeze the door. Upon which we discover that the entire interior of the helicopter is frozen solid with a smoky essence throughout. With similar difficulty and delay, Drake manages to melt this ice too and remove the occupants. They aren’t dead and Drake is able to revive them to conciousness.

During the melting process, that smoky essence we saw in the ice, seeming to be darkness itself, sublimates and disappears. Before the melting process is done, Terrwyn used magic to gather a jar of the blackness. Thus growing her collection of exotic spell components.

We then talk with The IS agents a short while, confirming that we have a tentative truce and that, as much as we may question their methods, they do seem to be on the side of humanity. We talk briefly about the monster we encountered, a Damned as they called it. They ask to borrow Drake’s phone, to which he instead gives them a blank burner phone that the team has. The agents thank him, and when asked how we might contact them, they simply tell us to call any given 555 number; they’ll be listening.

We part ways with the professor and start making our way back to the yacht; the professor in tow.

END OF GAME

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