Monday, 19 September 2016

The Cells S01E04 Scene 10

Continuing the story of The Cells, a Primetime Adventures game.

Spotlight character: None for this episode.

Someone doesn't want the Council looking into government installations. Lazarus decides to hunt for them by visiting more and more facilities. Spending a lot of time looking at science and technology efforts, he finds his way to a hydroponics research centre. While there he discusses with the scientists how to accelerate food production. The men in coats nod along, especially when Lazarus suggests additional funding if they take it down a particular path.

While talking with them he gets a phonecall from the General.

"Mr Moore, I was wondering if you might join me at Citadel Centre hospital."

Lazarus checks his calendar and sees that it's empty. "I'm a little busy just now, but I could be there in about four hours."

"Mr Moore, I really will make this worth your while."

"Hmm. I'll be there a little earlier."

"See what you can do."

The military is taking a public relations beating. A sex scandal comes to the fore, with female officers coming forward with allegations. For once the media is raking someone else's muck.

When Lazarus eventually arrives at the hospital, a young officer greets him and says, "Sir, when you're ready, the General has requested your attendance. I have strict orders to take you to a meeting point at the back of the hospital. Please come with me, sir."

Still with a black eye from the events at the Cells, Lazarus has been seen in the media doing his job. He's made no attempt to cover it up for this meeting.

"Very well, lead on."

"Hell of a shiner you've got there, sir."

"Hell of a story too," replies Lazarus.

"Well, the world does revolve on stories, doesn't it."

"Yes. Do you have one for me?"

"I think you're about to go beyond my pay grade, sir. This is where I leave you." He takes Lazarus to an elevator. A man inside it is operating it.

Lazarus turns to the soldier who has walked with him. "I'm quite sure you don't want to pay the price for my pay grade."

The elevator descends, much deeper than it should. The doors open and the General is waiting. He's made no attempt to delay, unlike in the past.

"Mr Moore, thank you for joining us. Let's walk and talk. See, this attention we're getting in the media is causing us some trouble. We're wondering if you can making it go away."

"I think you said something about making this worth my time."

"I did, didn't I? Well, you see, Mr Moore, toward the end of the war I lost a number of high ranking officers due to a lack of youngberries. The fountain stopped flowing and lots of important people in the military got sick. So we realised the danger we were in and there were certain experiments conducted. One very brave soldier stepped up and he responded to artificial youngberry trials in an interesting fashion."

"What do you mean by 'interesting?'"

"You have to see for yourself." The General leads Lazarus into a small room. There's a man in a hospital bed, with a red line of infection running down him. He skull swelling out into grey mottled skin and one large unblinking black eye. Patches of the grey skin have taken both his hand and his leg and he kicks and twitches as he looks up at the visitor. His restraints hold him in the bed.

The General says, "This is what happens when you mix youngberries with a synthetic strain that our scientists developed. It seems to have brought out some latent element in the youngberry. This is what we saw as a result."

"Is it merely a deformation or have you noticed anything else."

"It's actually changed his DNA, as we understand it."

"As an improvement?"

"The process is incomplete as far as we can tell."

"I see," says Lazarus. "So this is a transformation in progress."

"I think the proper word might be 'invasion'."

"What are you suggesting, General? Be clear. Be specific."

"Do you know where the youngberries came from? They were first harvested from Tunguska. Massive meteorite site."

"Yes well if we're going to engage in fanciful speculations about alien origins of youngberries then we're going to need more than somebody who looks like the film adaptations of a bygone era. Certainly what has happened to this person is extraordinary."

"I thought you'd be impressed."

"But I'm yet to be convinced that this is of extra-terrestrial origin." Lazarus looks away from the General and studies the patient to see how aware they are, to see if they are blinking "kill me" in morse code or any other subtle clues. None of these suspicions have any evidence, but the man is quite sick.

"General, you said this is a process. Do you have photographs of last week, the week before."

The general hands him a file on the patient. There is clearly an interaction between the man's DNA, the synthetic, and the youngberry.

"Is this the only person this has been observed in?"

"That's the thing. We reached out quietly and we would have had to make a double of this officer before Global came down on us."

"There's another?"

"No, Mr Moore. This is the only example of this interaction."

"And Global doesn't know?"

"They're unaware. But if this media attention continues on us, Mr Moore, we will absolutely be exposed."

"What happened to this man's family?"

"They've been compensated."

"Adequately? Because this would require something significant."

"Think what you will of me, Mr Moore, but I take care of my people. This man's family will not want again."

"I see. And what are your plans for this man, this person?"

"Well, to be honest, Mr Moore, my lead scientist recommends that we get a sample of your blood with the possibility of a cure, seeing as you seem to have an immunity to the cancer-causing properties of the youngberries. You see this man before you? I understand that this is a difficult situation and I understand that you have leverage over us right now. We need this media problem to go away."


"Who has left my muck un-raked?!"

Saturday, 17 September 2016

The Cells S01E04 Scene 9

Continuing the story of The Cells, a Primetime Adventures game.

Spotlight character: None for this episode.

Still at the home of Sergei and Sheila, Hal Turner shows her the wax seal and asks, "Was this a veterans group that Sergei was in that I might need to reach out to?"

Although the factions from the war are well known, this particular symbol is different enough to be unfamiliar.

She says, "Oh, um. Yeah. I have seen that. That was a group of guys that Sergei used to hang out with. Risers he called them."

"Over at the soldiers bar?"

"I really don't know. One of them was missing an eye and had some facial burns. The other was a red head with a long biker beard. I don't think Sergei liked them. I didn't like them. But they helped Sergei get his job down at the docks. I haven't seen them in over a month and I don't think Sergei was friends with them any more."

Even though the conversation goes a little longer, Sheila can give no more useful information. But after Hal leaves she picks up the phone, wipes the tears away, and calls someone and says, "Ok you bastards. I made it go away. I think... you can just leave my family alone now. I've done what you've asked. Just leave us in peace."

A distorted voice speaks back, "If you're seen talking to that man again, we will take your kids."

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Cells S01E04 Scene 8

Continuing the story of The Cells, a Primetime Adventures game. I feel like I should remind you that Cathy is a guy. Zach just gives out irreverent nicknames.

Spotlight character: None for this episode.

Lazarus Moore is apprehensive about wasting time in the Cells complex any longer than he has to. He quickly gathers statistics about the place, attempting to calculate what the population could have been, the size of the hospital and other facilities.

"Zach, there is almost nothing else to learn here. Unless you've got something else that you're not telling me then it's time to go."

"There's another set of cells," replies Zach.

"On site or another site?"

Zach turns to Sgt Cathy. "Does your handheld have something about Odessa on it?"


"So it's a secret complex," muses Zach.

Private Thompson says, "That has a kind of block-ops feel to it, sir."

Zach says, "Alright Lazarus, you want to get out of here. Just one last thing. I want to see my cell, then we can go."

Lazarus turns to the sergeant. "How much time do you think we have before the General's people get here? They know we're here. I'm sure of it. Nobody leaves facilities like this unattended and unwatched. And if not them then it will be someone else." Turning back to Zach he says, "Zachariah, you have five minutes."

Zach runs.

He finds the cell and remembers the moment he stepped into the cell for the first time, realising that he'd made the wrong decision. It's a stark, empty room. He tries to turn around to convince the guards he's changed his mind. He puts up such a fight that he is sedated and locked in. As he passes out he says, "Call my dad. He'll tell you who I am."

Back in the present, Lazarus is trying to leave the Cells, fearful of whomever might be watching. The four of them reach the edge of the facility doorway and are about to step out as a shot rings out. Private Thompson's brains splatter over Zach. Sgt Cathy grabs Zach and Lazarus and pulls them back behind cover.

"Down!" Cathy shouts. "Stay down! Do not move, the two of you!" He pulls out a gun, ready.

"What... what the fuck?" pants Zach.

Lazarus' pulse races. He's had a lot longer to be afraid of death than anybody else.

"They shot him!" says Zach.

"Yes," says Lazarus, "and we are alive. It's shit. I'm not going to argue with you about that, but you need to keep it together now."

Lazarus, former canon of the Path, knows the secrets of the confession booth and knows Zach's father. "You don't want your dad to find out you died a coward, standing up. You have to keep it together and get through this, otherwise he will think even less of you than he does now."

The underhanded plea fails. Zach doesn't keep it together and aimlessly runs back into his Cell to curl up into a foetal position on the floor. Cathy attempts to fight off the attackers and dies in a hail of bullets. Although they aren't dressed like soldiers, they move like soldiers. Lazarus sees five different ways out of it but spends so long considering which is the best that he and Zach are overrun and black-bagged.

Lazarus, hooded, has his hands zip-tied behind his back. He's hauled into the back of a van and hears, "We've lost visuals on the other one. Bring up infra-red and schematics. Hunt him down and bring him back."

Radio chatter continues. "Yes, we've got one of the targets."

The camera cuts to inside the bag. Lazarus is mouthing a calming, meditative mantra to regain focus in the middle of the chaos.

The attackers, carrying an assortment of weapons and wearing irregular clothes, give all the appearance of a military unit trying not to look like a military unit. Although he can't see through the bag, Lazarus reconstructs the scene in his mind from the sounds of the action around him. "If he wanted me dead, I'd be dead now. What do they want?"

Back in the Cell, Zach hears booted feet approaching. His survival instinct kicks in and he scrambles to find another way out. He leaves the cell and goes down every stairway he can find. Down, down, ever down.

The not-soldiers call out, "Hey mister pretty boy. You're just pissing us off. The longer you take the more I'm going to take it out on you."

Zach finds a spanner and throws it far away from his position to try and trick the soldiers. They fall for it and run in the other direction. Now free to choose his escape he remembers that they've captured Lazarus.

Zach find his way to a radio. He picks it up and tunes it until he hears voices.

"You there, General?"

"No one here by that name. Come out, boy. Make it easy on all of us."

"Have you killed my friend?"

"Not yet. We can do that quick or slow."

"I doubt my actions are going to influence your decision in that regard."

"Oh you'd be amazed." There's a sound of movement and the sound of a grunt as Lazarus' voice can be heard in the background.

"Back off, General. I've got options."

"I think you'll need to be more persuasive than that."

Zach hears footsteps coming closer to him. He tries to change radio channel to find anyone else. "To anyone who's listening! This is the son of Cardinal Erasmus Templeton. I'm being hunted down in the Cells by the General and his men. They're not wearing military fatigues. They're acting upon their own to take out the established government."

He's in luck's way. A news helicopter has been passing by and veers around towards the cells. A powerful searchlight flashes over the facility. LAzarus hears a soldier say, "Sir, we've been compromised. Option two? Yes? Immediately."

Lazarus is picked up immediately, with the sense that he's about the get a bullet in his head. He has a moment of seeing all his plans unfinished and lamenting this horribly. However, he's thrown from the back of the van and lands heavily on the ground. The van races away.

The spotlight from the helicopter catches Zach running out towards Lazarus. Lazarus stands on his own two feet and walks upright.

"Look," he shouts, "if you're someone I know, please take this bag off my head."

Zach unzips the black bag. For all of Lazarus' composure he can't help but breath a sigh of relief.

"Thank you, Zachariah."

"For what it's worth... well, I think I've gotten us into some deep shit."

"Yes, well we'll even out ledgers later."

The news that night carries two stories of paramilitary attempts to destabilise the government. It plays beautifully. The story of councillors inspecting a government facility and then being attacked closely follows on the story of the funeral. In the story Zach says, "I suspect that the people behind this were also behind the tear gassing as well."

The media starts asking questions. Uncomfortable questions about the General actions for the year of the Cells. All those helicopters. All the people who disappeared.


I just want the guards to say to Zach, "Yes we know who you are" and close the door.

When Zach has tricked the guards and is compelled to rescue Lazarus, "Lazarus, you *are* a monster!" "What, with these puppy dog eyes?" "Yes, made from real puppy dogs!"

"Great, I've got a bag over my head and my hands tied behind my back and I'm not paying anyone to do this to me either."

Zach puts the hammer back in subtle.