This is the third part of the solo actual play I shared first last week. This time, there was very little non-fiction detail on how the game was played to share as italic text. Hope you enjoy!
The scene began with a question: “What on Earth do I do next?” I knew I needed a “Guardian” (cf. the Solo Players Guide To Roleplaying) but that was it. To help, I drew three cards from the GM Apprentice Deck and from the nine verbs, adjectives, and nouns provided I chose: “Exchange Dormant Portal”. I also chose one Location from the cards: Bar. Finally, I needed a name for the Guardian.. so I picked that off a card too.
They emerged into a basement filled with barrels of beer and shelves stocked with tinned and dried goods.
“This way,” said Marlene as she led Hal towards some steps leading upward. The faint beat of music could be hear from above and the hum of conversation.
“Is this a bar?”
“Yeah, it’s a safe place in the city. Folk here are sympathetic to the Cause.”
At the top of the stairs, Marlene knocked a sharp staccato code with her knuckles on the door. As she waited, the others put Hisham down onto the floor and started to drop down their gear. Hal could see each was armed with pistols and only Marlene has a rifle.
“You’re pretty well-armed for a civilian,” said the younger fighter.
Hal smiled and nodded. Couldn’t expect anyone that young to know who he was before the coming of the Imperium.
“Used to be a hunter, son. Used to be a famous guide, working for the rich folk. Showing them where to find the best Oxxhog.”
The young man looked him over and nodded. He didn’t look terribly impressed but then Hal didn’t expect much.
A bolt was thrown back on the door and Marlene stepped back, wary. The door opened and a grizzled older man slipped in, closing the door behind him. The momentary din of the bar, some kind of acoustic folk rock and the conversation of diners, was cut short as the two descended towards Hal.
“Well, we got him. This is the asset. Damn near killed Hisham doing it,” said Marlene.
“Didn’t exactly ask him to blow my apartment door open.”
The new figure regarded Hal with penetrating blue eyes behind a dark, thick black beard. He had a dark military jacket over black jeans and a t-shirt bearing the logo of some obscure Althean rock band, all demonic imagery. The name on the jacket read, ‘Chanda’. It was a name anyone in the city would know: ‘Captain Chanda, the butcher of Althea.’ That’s what the Imperial News Network called him.
“They were coming for you, Brex,” Chanda said.
“Seems so. Not exactly sure why, but seems so.”
“Marlene’s team got you out. Alive. So now they don’t have you.”
Hal waited for Chanda to get to the point.
“Althea is groaning under Imperial oppression, Brex. She is crying out for revenge. To lift the mighty jackboot of the Governor and breath freely again. But it appears that the pathway to that future comes through you.”
“I don’t understand,” said Hal.
“You used to work for the Bureau, correct?”
“Sure. Fraud Division. Working on tracking counterfeiters and credit launderers, mostly. Eight years in the service, why?”
“Why is Agent Auspicar hunting you? How do you merit a full tactical squad?”
Hal shrugged. Marlene was working on Hisham and it appeared that he was coming around now.
“Mr Brex, Imperial Agents do not hunt Bureau retirees in the the middle of the night for no good reason,” said Chanda.
“I think I am just as curious to know why the famous Captain Chanda sent his rebel cell to rescue me.”
Chanda nodded, “Fair query.”
There was a pause as Chanda walked over to Hisham and exchanged a few quiet words, just quiet enough that Hal couldn’t catch them. The two fighters were sitting now, cleaning down their pistols and listening to the conversation. Marlene was bandaging Hisham’s chest. She had just injected him with some meds too. Hal was struck by their calm, as if getting Hisham to a hospital wasn’t going to be a big deal.
“I don’t know what this Agent Auspicar wants, Chanda. I never heard of her until tonight.”
Marlene piped up, “She was dressed like a Detective but she is far more dangerous, Hal. She’s an Imperial Agent undercover, trying to help the Governor track down and eliminate the Althean Resistance. She chose you. We got wind of it and now we are mighty curious to know why.”
Hal stood still and allowed the moment to wash over him.
“My guess is she wants to locate the Archive,” said Hal slowly.
Chanda turned sharply and stared at Hal. He cocked his head and scratched at his beard.
Hal continued, “It’s an obscure site filled with incomprehensible alien art and symbology. It’s also where the Althean Council discovered the darkest secret of recent history. When the Imperium attacked, all the records of the Archive were purged and the location has likely been lost. From orbit, the Archive resists detection, scattering signals and making it hard to spot under the deep canopy of trees wherein it lies. But I know the area.”
“Why does the Imperium want to find it? What is the big secret?”
“I’m not entirely sure, Chanda. I was a hunter, a guide. I took the rich Councilman who funded the research to the location. I know that they brought something out. I know that it killed several of the team he sent in. I know that they kept it all a secret. But that is all I know.”
Chanda studied Hal for a moment. He turned away slowly and pointed to the team in front of him.
“I want you to take Marlene’s team to the Archive. Get them inside. Avoid Auspicar. Find out why the Imperium wants it.”
“Sure,” said Hal, “But first, I am gonna need my jeep.”