To start, we asked whether our plan had been successful to convince Anathraxa that the rebellion was going to start on Mechanos, and therefore for her to divert a significant portion of her battle fleet there.
The answer was unequivocal. The Levitos area of space was free of Anathraxa’s ships and the space above Mechanos was alive with them. So far so good.
We then asked ourselves a general question: “What happens next?” We were not even necessarily sure that we would be on the same side as last time, or portraying the same characters. The answer came back: Inquire the Public. What did that mean? It was not till very near the end that we saw how it all tied together.
Using the tools described previously, this is what we discovered about ourselves, our situation and how the rest of the session played out:
We were in space near Stygia. We were portraying the same characters, Parnassos and Danton, lieutenants to captain Magdelene, intent on clearing a path for the coming rebellion against the tyrannical queen of the universe. Our mission was to try to contact the enigmatic (or even mythical) Stygians in the hope that they would help us in our rebellion. Deep in the dust cloud, where the ship’s brain was incapable of calculating the path, Parnassos piloted her with great skill.
With no warning, a ship of unknown design appeared along side. We tried to signal her by radio and then by morse lamp, but no response was given. As we considered what to do, a humming noise penetrated the ship. Behind us, on the flight deck, a half-dozen patches of swirling light appeared. “Leave this place,” a voice in our heads warned. Try as we might to initiate a dialogue, the words were just repeated, and then the lights faded out. The humming became shrill, penetrating both our bodies and the ship’s, until systems started to spark out and fail. Smoke filled the cabin and sparks lanced over the controls. Parnassos wrestled with the controls as the ship fell dead-stick towards the surface of Stygia. At the last moment he levelled her out and we pancaked on the barren planet.
It was inhospitable outside. Dark and shadowy, with an unbreathable atmosphere, Stygia was a nightmare landscape. Tortured rock forms towered over us, sometimes resembling frozen lava flows and at other times, from different angles, the ruins of some demented long-forgotten civilisation. We donned our bubble helmets, buckled on our rayguns, and ventured out.
We wandered at random through the maze of rocks until we became aware of haunting music. Parnassos saw a moving shadow ahead, so we gave chase. It kept just ahead of us until we thought we had it cornered. Then it turned and we saw it properly. It was a monstrous creature of fangs and claws and brute muscle. We let rip with our rayguns but they had no effect. It leapt. We cowered backwards… and noticed in just the nick of time that we were on the edge of a precipice. One more step and we would have plummeted to our deaths. When we looked back for our attacker he was gone.
For some unconscious reason, we decided to descend into the valley that had almost claimed our lives. Picking a path down, we eventually came to the floor and followed this path for what seemed an eternity. Then we saw what could only be described as a typical human village set in an oasis. We advanced and were astounded to see a courtyard full of men and women at leisure – playing cards, drinking, playing musical instruments and canoodling. More surprising still was the realisation that we knew these people. We recognised their faces. They were all the dead pirates that we had known in life. So this was where everyone went when they died, I reasoned. Stygia is paradise! I sat down at a table and motioned to be included in the next hand of cards. One of my old companions offered me a drink and I took off my helmet so I could drink it.
The next thing I remembered was Parnassos leaning over me and fixing down my helmet. He had not been so convinced by the illusion, and so was conscious enough to save my life when I nearly killed myself. The vision was gone, and we were alone on the barren surface again.
Again we set off. Some time later we came to a very ordinary looking office building. This time we were suspicious of all visions and structures on this ghost world and we approached cautiously. Unlike the previous visions, this building appeared real in a different way. This was not an illusion, we concluded. This was a real place, separated in time or space. We were seeing something real from somewhere else.
We entered, and saw a typical office, and a man working at a desk. I recognised him. It was Basilike I, a once prominent member of an aristocratic race that had disappeared when Anathraxa had taken power. It was possible that he could be a rival leader to the resistance, if only we could find out where he was. After some analysis with our tricorders, we concluded that the time scale was consistent with the present, and that he was on the planet Zeebor. How was it possible that we could be seeing this? All the results indicated that somehow the Stygians were using the Slipstream as an information highway.
But somehow just installing another aristocratic dictator did not seem like the kind of rebellion we wanted to be involved in. We remembered the initial motivation for the adventure: Inquire the Public. The people must rise up. What could inspire them to do that? A figurehead, yes. But was there another way?
We looked at what Basilike was writing. It was a stage play describing a fictional people who chafed under a corrupt ruler. It was a humorous work but at heart it criticised the way the people were too lazy to rise up and change things. This was it: this was the tool we could use. Get this published and staged on a dozen worlds and maybe, just maybe, there might be a groundswell of support as people turn the humour around and decide to act.
The words of the play became etched in our memories so we would be able to reproduce them at will. And in a flash, the building disappeared and we found ourselves standing again beside our damaged ship. Our mission was complete. The Stygians had given us all the help they could in advising us how to proceed. After some repairs we lifted off, back to civilisation, back to add the next piece to the plot to overthrow queen Anathraxa.