#SharedScifi

So as I noted, I’m totally playing this one straight and by the book. Except I accidentally incorporated a rule I read on the original Ghost/Echo thread on the story games forum.

I tried to do it as a screencast but it didn’t go well. For one thing, the native Mac software is sloppy and doesn’t let you pause without jumping through hoops. And who wants to stare at my cursor wiggling while I think about what to type next? What if I have to go to the bathroom or something?

For another, it made me feel nervous and clumsy, and I kept second guessing myself and it wasn’t nearly as much fun. I feel like I should definitely give it another try, but I feel kind of weird about it.

Not as much “game” or action in this one. Mostly because I felt like I needed some explanation, and I’m still feeling my way out on who these people are.


Okay, new game, new scene.

I feel like I should do a screencast play or something but seriously, I am just going to sit here staring at the screen for a while as I try to figure out where I want to catch up to them. I think I had a good idea but I got distracted and forgot it.

Oh, I know. Hah. That was actually pretty quick.

I wake up in the sickroom, in bed.

Not quite a "white room with amnesia" scenario, but still not good.

I think crowd sourcing decided the girl is definitely not human, so let's see how inhuman she is.

Ok, found the pause button on the screencast software. It was at the bottom of a flight of stairs, in a disused lavatory, behind a sign that says "beware of the leopard".

And it doesn't work very well. So I'll do this as long as I can but yeah.

Ok, now I'm on try number four.

This is the sitting staring phase again. And I had to pause and I hit the wrong button and the stupid thing decided that meant I was done. So I'm going to give up for now.

That actually gives me an idea.

The girl is sitting in a chair next to the door, and she's staring at me like I'm the strangest thing she's ever seen. Like if she takes her fierce eyes off me for a second I'll vanish.

She's not even blinking. I find it very unsettling.

She's about Demon's size, but younger and skewing more towards cute than Demon's hyper-aggressive sensuality. I feel about a hundred years too old to even be noticing this.

I feel that way about Demon on a regular basis too. And I can never tell if she's flirting with me or not and she's thinks it's hilarious.

And then it sinks in that I'm in the sickroom, and Demon, no, not just Demon, my whole damn team is dead, wiped out by corps and Wraiths who don't respect the laws of reality.

My shirt's gone and I've got a bandage wrapped around the middle of my chest and up around my left shoulder, then down my arm, but it doesn't hurt.

I remember getting raked by the Hawk but not if it actually broke skin. Paranormal backlash will fry your short term memory faster than any drug.

The girl's still staring at me. Did she blink?

"Why am I bandaged?" I ask cautiously, and she shrugs.

"You were leaking fluid everywhere," she said, "I wasn't sure what to do so I looked it up on your computer."

She's probably talking about the wraithsickness, that's pretty disconcerting if you've never seen it before. The ghost stuff evaporates without a trace within moments of manifesting, but it can be pretty messy in the process.

"The recommended treatment for leaking is a bandage," she informs me, and finally blinks. I'm a little relieved that she does.

"I cleaned up the mess, too," she says, and I offer a reflexive thanks as I swing my feet out of bed.

The top half of my Echo suit's in a heap on the floor; I'm still wearing the gray trousers.

There's a bitter, sour taste in my mouth and I try not to think about Demon, or Breaker. Or Nix's long, graceful fingers or her dark hair spread out on my pillow or her laugh. I scoop up the suit and head down the hall to the lab.

It's just an alcove off the main common room, across from the galley, as dingy and beat up as the rest of the Axis, but it's got a bench and tools. I throw the Echo suit down on the bench and slide into Breaker's chair.

Where'd Breaker keep the damn wirewrench? I root around in the pile of rusty bolts and broken gadgets he calls a workspace and finally find it under a half-eaten sandwich and a flask of liquid. I start tinkering.

The girl has trailed after me and is standing next to the table, staring after me, and it's setting my teeth on edge.

"What?" I ask finally, putting the tool down as gently as I can and giving her a look over my shoulder, and she shrugs again.

"Look," I say, then stop. Take a deep breath. "Do you have a name?"

She looks thoughtful. She has big blue eyes, hair the color of pale ginger. and an upturned nose with freckles scattered across it. She reminds me of a girl I once knew.

"You know what? On second thought, skip it," I say. It's rude, but my whole team's just been wiped out and maybe it wasn't her fault but she was sure as hell involved. "Start with why you were in a box, and why we were lured into a trap over you."

I'm going to use "manipulate or hold steadfast" to discover a hidden truth. The danger is that I'm put in a bad position.

Kind of feeling my way out here. Just 2d6 since this is not Walker's specialty.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 1 3 ] 4

Well, that's unequivocal! Going to put the failure to the goal and the partial success to not being put in a very bad position. I'll hold it over as a danger, since it's still active.

She just stares at me. Another shrug. Like maybe she doesn't know. And then she cocks her head to one side like she's listening to a voice I can't hear.

"You're just hungry," she says, "You're always hungry after a mission."

She sounds just like Nix, so much that it literally hurts, and I turn back to the bench for a bit. I'm not really working, just turning the capacitor over and over in my hands as I stare at it blankly.

Oh, man, I know I'm supposed to play to find out, but I suddenly know how it all went down like I was there.

I usually will get vague ideas as I play of where the story might go, but this is so blindingly obvious... I guess we'll see if the dice bear it out.

It doesn't really register at first as she slides the plate onto the bench under my arm. It's a ham sandwich.

It's kind of a running joke, the ham. Nix ordered it before we shipped out and nobody realized it was a whole damn ham, the entire twenty pound thing, not just a chunk of it.

We've been eating it pretty much every meal since. Eggs and ham. Ham sandwiches. Ham casserole. The night Demon served us thinly sliced ham on ham with a side of ham.

Could be worse, we could have been stuck with a whole crate of broccoli or brussel sprouts.

Breaker used to give me a hard time about my limited dietary range, said I was spoiled from growing up on a meat and potatoes farm world.

This ham sandwich is exactly the way I like it. Plain, no cheese, no dressing, just bread and meat.

I erupt out of the chair and catch her arm, then pull her off balance, getting right in her face. My voice is raw and ugly and the only person who gave a damn how I like my ham sandwiches is dead, her brains splattered all over the helm.

"How did you know?" I demand.

Her lashes are long and dark, and her eyes are blank, like a doll's.

Another manipulate check, I think, just to get an idea of how things are going?

Goal is to learn the hidden truth, complication is probably that she'll flip out and do harm.

Rolling 2d6 1 times.
[ 3 5 ] 8

So, a partial and a full. Which means I either learn the truth and get my ass kicked or don't learn the truth and avoid the pain.

"Nix told me," she blurts out, and her eyes suddenly aren't a doll's eyes, they're as human as mine, and scared. The words register, and then she moves, and I'm on the floor gasping for breath around the ball of pain that's my solar plexus.

"I did not give you permission to touch me," she says, and she's doing the unblinking thing again.

I manage a nod, eventually.

---

So, we're still missing Wheeler. No leads on the ambush. Didn't even manage to run a roll on the circuitry to see if it's been tampered with!

Nice character development, though.

Ok, I'll handle some of that in between scenes. I'm thinking the circuitry was tampered with?

[fifty-fifty, 49 ≤ 50] YES

Great, so there was definitely a traitor on board. Someone who could screw with their suits and not be noticed. I'm thinking one more shipboard scene, where Walker investigates just how bad things are, and then I'll pause for input.

The regulator on my suit's busted wide open. It starts to make sense what happened to Demon. Anybody not locked down hard in their head, thinking they were protected from getting more than a trickle of ether, was getting a flood of it.

And it's like too much oxygen; first you get giddy and careless and you stop caring too much and then you get crazy and then you flame out like a torch.

Only one member of the crew isn't here and isn't dead. The only one of us who wasn't a full blown headcase, just barely a sensitive at all. The new kid, who just signed on a few months ago. Wheeler.

Nix liked him, thought he had real potential as a pilot, even if he wasn't a tk and wouldn't ever be as good as she was.

When I find him I am going to remind him of that. That she trusted him. And I am going to -- I am going to remind him of that.

I spend the next few minutes taking inventory. None of us carried a whole lot of baggage, and I'm not ready to clean out anybody's room yet, so I just look to see what's broken and what we've got.

Anything important broken?

[fifty-fifty, 78 ≥ 50] NO

One of the lifeboats is gone, along with all of the meds and the credit stash. It wasn't much, a few hundred maybe, but it would have helped.

Without the meds and with no Echo suit, I am going to be a mess before we limp back into port.

Hell, I'm already a mess.

I stop in the hall outside the helm, my hand on the door, and hesitate.

You can't fly a ship the size of the Axis without the helm, or at least a competent tk, and that's not one of my talents. The girl's in the shadows of the sickroom door, watching me. I should have come here first, but I didn't.

I take a deep, silent breath, and push the door open. I exhale sharply in surprise. The helm's clean, spotless, like it was scoured, and her body's gone.

"I cleaned up the mess," the girl repeats, and it's my turn to stare at her.

She's tougher than she looks, or crazy, or maybe a little of both.

I sit down at the helm. I'm a little rusty and it's not exactly a Crane class fighter, but the principles are the same. I hope.

A quick look says we're on course for an uncharted asteroid in the Railyard. Nix's last course, maybe, or maybe a failsafe. We can just make it on our current fuel, if we don't waste too much on heat and light.

But I don't know what's there. As far as the charts are concerned, it's nothing.

"It's the Anvilwerks," the girl says, and I look over at her. She has that flat doll look again.

"The what?" She shrugs.

I hesitate, my hands over the override.

"She wanted you to go there but she won't say why," she says, right over my shoulder, and I try not to jump.

"You talk to them," I say slowly. If she's crazy, and this course was an accident, we aren't going to have enough fuel to get anywhere else. In all my years Walking, I've never seen a real ghost, just the damn Wraiths.

"I can't believe I'm trusting my life to a ham sandwich," I mutter, and climb out of the seat. This is a rough hand, but I'm going to play it out.

"Do you have a name?" I ask, stopping in the doorway, and she looks back at me.