Monday, September 24, 2012

Dystopic: The Jazz Club

In the session before last, only two players could attend (Tokyo and London) and as everyone was on a helicopter at the last game it wasn't easy to come up with a reason why the other three weren't involved.  So instead I improvised.  Tokyo and London were spirited away into some sort of courtyard, found themselves in their most familiar well-worn clothes (Tokyo in her work uniform; London in typical detective-wear), and experienced a few hints that they might be unconscious (Tokyo's cyberware placed their GPS coordinates as traveling over the Arizona desert; London tasting dirt which suggested he passed out and crash landed as he was using his wings to fly).

After a number of creepy incidents in that courtyard including a puzzle involving hooked chains and a moving statue and a few encounters with something they didn't want to look at, they made their way out of the courtyard and through a narrow cavern (Tokyo's spelunking came in handy here) into what looked like a crappy little flat.  They looked around and found behind the curtains no window but a series of pinned up photographs of London during his days at work.  The only door was really hot to touch, putting London in mind of when the flat next to his caught on fire, and he and Tokyo set up protecting themselves from fire (wet blankets, etc.) before attempting to open the door, careful to step aside in case of a Backflash of flame.

No fire.

Just flashbulbs and sounds of cameras going off.  They walked down a red carpet into a Jazz Club where most people's smiles seemed pinned up to their cheeks (meaning their smiles showed a lot of gum) and where most of the people sort of burbled in the background like Extras and only spoke when spoken to (sounded like English to London; Japanese to Tokyo).  The bartender knew their favorite drinks.  When they tried to read the menu, it looked like Chinese to London and Arabic to Tokyo - both languages they couldn't read.

The only semi-real person there was the Jazz Singer with vibrant red lips, too perfect skin, and pointed elfin ears but she wasn't interested in talking to London, thinking he was just trying to chat her up on her break.  When she went back onstage, he poured a drink on the light that was on her (it was an uplight at the edge of the stage) but she just looked annoyed and went to stand before the next light without stopping a note. He did it again, and she started looking real agitated and went to the last one, which he then destroyed with a drink.  During their next conversation London tried to convince her that this place wasn't real.  She threatened him with bouncers ("Where are they?" demanded London), warned him about the Nightclub Manager ("He's not coming," said London).

The Nightclub Manager appeared with a great big smile and expressed his surprise that they were there.  He indicated knowing London (negatively) and London assumed he was a demon, perhaps from the Ebon Legion, whom London had fought during the Long March.  The Nightclub Manager then expressed how he was sad that Tokyo had left his side, the right side, and that she had spent so much time on the wrong side of the war.  He had apparently liked her.  The implications were that he wasn't a fallen angel ... that he might well have been an angel.

He stepped forward when London threatened him (or insulted him about the Jass Club, I can't remember) and became a multitude of seven duplicates.  London grabbed the Jazz Singer and dragged her into the Backstage with Tokyo and then through a corridor where London demanded the Jazz Singer tell him a way out.  She didn't know one so they went into her dressing room.

Tokyo searched for clues or a way out while London tried to convince the Jazz Singer that this wasn't real and that she should help them escape.  He focused on the big questions and while she couldn't answer them.  "Who's your bass player?  What's his name?" London asked.  "He's new, he's just the bass player," said the Jazz Singer.

Tokyo noticed the calender was full of Fridays and that behind it was a crack that she couldn't enlarge.  The Nightclub Manager started pushing through the walls, his face slowly outlined as though he were pressing against a sheet of white opaque gladwrap.  London managed a question that really put a chink in the Jazz Singer's sense of reality and the crack widened.

Tokyo got in on the action but she focused on small things.

"Do you have any family?" asked Tokyo.

"Er, yes?" said the Jazz Singer hesitatingly.

"Who?  Mother?  Father?" asked Tokyo.

"Oh, my mother.  I never knew my father."

"Where is she?" asked London.

"Uh, I don't know," she stammered.  "At home?"

"How did you get home?" asked Tokyo.

"I don't know."

"Bicycle?  Bus?  Do you use your own car?"

"Bicycle.  I ride to work and to home.  I can't afford a bus or my own car.  I have to look after my ... my mother and my little sister.  Ma can't work and my sis has school."

Slowly they unpicked her memories and realised that she was actually a black woman from 1943, New York, who had sung in jazz clubs to pay for her mother and little sister who lived in a small apartment.  She had been lured by a rather friendly and hypnotic gentleman, the Nightclub Manager, who was going to lead her to the lap of luxury but she ended up here.  The crack widened and opened and the three of them held hands and fled into a thorny place filled with thick trees and weedy shrubs.  None of the thorns hurt the two fallen but they kept scratching at the Jazz Singer, though London and Tokyo tried to shield her.

They paused in a clearing to recollect their senses and the Jazz Singer, Eliza Owen, realised that her hands were white and her ears sharply pointed but London and Tokyo managed to distract her from it.  Eliza ended up creating her own story that she was kidnapped by some kind of Nazi experimenter, or perhaps Japanese experimenter, and that London was a British agent and Tokyo a Japanese double agent, who had come to rescue her.  Satisfied with her outlandish but nevertheless more realitic version of events, she followed them through the thorny undergrowth.  They heard something huge stomping past and came across its giant footsteps before finally reaching a road strung with paper lanterns that lit up when the two fallen stepped on the road but stayed off when Eliza stepped onto it.

They ended up finding a little pond with two trees standing side by side that created a natural archway filled with flickering motes of colour (or so it appeared to the Fallen) and they activated it with a little will and some Faith and, all holding hands, they stepped through.  Unfortunately, wherever the girl went is not where they appeared.

Ahh, the tricks of finding it hard to justify the diappearance or NPCishness of most of the party while still running the game.  In the following session, I only had three of the five and one of those three turned up late enough that I thought he wasn't coming so went with the next weird installment of this strange series.  I'll tell you about it later.  Probably Thursday.

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