And now for the epic second half (and end) to my first backer game, Below (part 2).
GMING NOTE: (The scene continues from last time, we just had an end game CUT, and a bit of time has passed. Still on Beat 1.)
There are the sounds of a tread-mounted vehicle rumbling away. A tracked, mobile laser drill is seen disappearing down the corridor
`A path between the rubble has been cut open by the laser drill, after a few minutes of work.
“Simply marvellous machine, notice how it uses the spin here to….” Able waffles on. Whilst the tunnels the squad came from were laser-carved into cylindrical shapes, the tunnel beyond is not so. The LT’s theory about natural tunnels is likely correct, at least at first glance. The tunnels they stand in are about 15 foot high, necessary to move vehicles down here easily, including those with large drills and lasers attached. The ceiling beyond is a little higher, and the tunnel is wide enough that around six people could walk abreast where they are, and though the tunnel beyond the breach thins and changes in width, it still looks like three or four people could walk side by side. However, the walls and ceiling constantly dip up and down and warp, with no regularity of sense of design.
“So from the doctor’s tracks, we have two armoured men. On top of which there may be a monster with claws that doesn’t leave tracks, which we know from…. how do we know that again?”
Freiberg looks to Fabron pointedly.
“From the deceased.”
“There are no deceased. Besides a foot”, Best says, hands on hips, looking sceptical at Fabron
“I assure you, they are deceased.”
“Well likely. My point is, there are bodies, to examine, to even remotely support your giant monster-claw…” she scoffs a little “hypothesis.”
“We shall see”
“Yes.” Best tuts. “Yes we shall.” Her now bright red visor turns to the breached tunnel. “Shall we?”
“Given your scepticism, I will let you go first”, says Fabron.
She grabs her pistol from her hip, raising it up. “Being that this is still my op until you decide to say otherwise… I’ll take that offer.” She bites her lip and mutters “thank you.” And heads into the breached tunnel.
Freiberg follows beside and slightly behind the LT. She pulls her EMP rifle from her back and aims it down the tunnel past her superior officer. Her eyepiece retracts, allowing her to keep both eyes on the real world.
Fabron follows, and then Able.
GMING NOTE: (Appropriately at this point, due to a new active ability, we go to beat 2. You can continue to use current totals, and means you have four ability totals left for the scene… what you use them for may dictate what happens next and how the scene resolves, so you choose wisely. I won’t be asking you for ability totals in the narrative scene, so let me know what you want to try and if you want new totals at any point. I can advice you privately as to when it may be sensible, if you wish. Totals will continue to provide you results to relevant tasks. This sometimes means I’ll give you more details, sometimes not until you do something relevant like examine a specific area. So the more you describe, better it will likely go for you, and make fuck-ups and surprises less likely.)
The LT doesn’t move with haste, she moves with practised care, gently nudging aside bits of rubble with the edge of her boots, and occasionally with the tap of her cane. She doesn’t appear to have trouble walking. A cane just gives an air of pretension.
Able covers the rear; he shines his finger-tip scanner back the way we came; his face tells you he has seen those sort of movies.
Fabron follows along with slow careful steps, fully aware of the risk of massive hungry aliens.
Freiberg continues to follow behind and slightly beside her lieutenant, covering the way ahead wit her EMP rifle.
Best clambers over the rocks, and carefully begins walking down the tunnel. “Able, I don’t see the tracks you mentioned on this side. Any luck on your end?”
“I don’t want to alarm you but no I have not been able track the foot prints. This could be due to many factors”
“There being none to track seems the most obvious”, Fabron says.
“That, or they covered them”, Able replies.
Best looks back to give Fabron a pointed look, and then grins at Able; “What I was thinking, doctor. They only had ten seconds to grab the ore, so they clearly had no time to clear the tracks inside. But they likely did once they triggered a small collapse behind them.”
“On the way back we should check the rubble on this side for how they triggered it”
“Well, they have a head start on us. We don’t lose anything if you think, as your professional opinion, it would be wise to investigate now?”
“Might be; in case it is mechanical and so used as the so called booby-trap.”
“Okay, we’ll stop and check then. Freiberg, keep an eye down that tunnel, in case the thieves decided they want to come back for more. Give it to them, if they do.”
“Yes ma’am. Also, I’m thinking if they bothered to cover their tracks there must be a junction up ahead – there’d be no point hiding which way you went in a linear tunnel. If that’s so, then once we pass the junction they may be able to circle round behind us and try to get out the way we came in. Might be worth asking the miners to set a guard there.”
“They had time. They were working to a schedule but couldn’t risk getting too close”, Fabron reveals.
“Fabron- I appreciate your here to help, but we prefer hard evidence to speculation… reasonable though it may be” says Best, as she begins examining the walls.
“Mr Fabron could you share your evidence with me. I think a group analysis of our shared data could yield a better result, Able asks.
“By all means, find the evidence.”
“We will” Best snorts derisively, as she begins checking the wall on her left as she turns, just beyond the remaining rubble, Able checking the other wall
Fabron carefully brushes a few specks of dust off his sleeve and leaves the children to their games
“Curious. I don’t see how they made it collapse…. I worry that this could mean they have a means of collapsing the tunnel in a controlled way that we can detect…..” He stops, as his eyes notice the grooves in the rock. Not in the ceiling, not in the floor, along the wall. Four grooves, each about a foot in width with a foot between them. “Oh… I am currently re-evaluating the claw monster theory.”
“Did I mention ‘ hungry’?” Fabron says.
“The hungry claw monster theory.” He gestures to Best to come see his grooves
Freiberg continues to cover the corridor with increased twitchy determination after the words ‘hungry claw monster.’
“I suggest we change this to a….is the term Bug Hunt? Yes?”
Best rubs her hand against the wall too. “There#re markings in the rock. Unusual yes, but lets not jump to giant monster until we find its giant piles of shit, shall we?”
“The tracks didn’t go up to the body – so I’m wondering if one of the armoured guys has some sort of claw arm or mobile claw crane tool or something. Would explain the body being taken at range, and how they broke the wall, with the grooves”, Freiberg reasons.
“Yes indeed. Let’s go and catch those naughty ore-stealing murderers that definitely did this”, Fabron mocks.
“Would even explain the miner thinking he saw a claw monster.. .however Fabron knows what the miner was thinking”, Freiberg reasons.
Best turns on Fabron. “Okay Fabron… if you’re so certain this is a giant monster, please give me a bloody indication as to how you know that.” Her hands are on her on hips, a little passive aggressively. Able looks over to Fabron, eager for this intel. Freiberg keeps her eyes (and gun) on the tunnel, but is listening.
“That information is classified. But you already know that”, Fabron responses.
Able’s eyebrow raises. Best sighs deeply. “Fine. All right squad… I’ve done my fair amount of time hunting killers. That means I am good at reading people…” she locks eyes with Fabron. “And, well he doesn’t have any reason to lie… concealing information, yes. But… well, we have to trust his judgement. So… I am not willing to say there IS a giant monster but…” She sighs. “Well… just keep your wits about you. Clear?”
“I shall prepare for monster stool samples just in case”, Able says.
The tension breaks, as Best snorts in laughter. She walks over and claps him on the shoulder.
“I like you, Doc.”
“Thank you Lieutenant.” He gives her a large grin
“Fabron, if you could keep an eye on the civvie while you’re at the back… well, that’d be nice.” Best gives Fabron a sarcastic, sweet girl smile. “Freiberg, as you were, with me.”
The camera cuts for a little montage as the marines walk their way down the winding tunnel, which mostly keeps level, but does occasionally get a little steeper as they progress. Its just one linear, yet windy tunnel, so far.
Freiberg is quiet, though gradually becoming less jittery.
“Mr Fabron, could you describe the monster to me so I can compare it against known creatures?” Able asks.
“It’s classified”, Bests adds derisively.
“Oh…” Able looks very disappointed
“I have not seen it to describe”, Fabron elaborates.
Best stops as they round a sharp corner, and have a straight line of about 100 foot ahead, where the tunnel finally forks left and right at the end. Best holds up her hand. “Something on the ceiling.” As Best draws attention to it, they see some kind of black cube up on the ceiling, embedded in the rock. It looks like it would fit in a pair of human hands. “Looks like tech. Valkyrie, any ideas?” Best flicks her wrist pad, her helmet visor turns white. “Reading strong EM frequency from it. Definitely active.”
GMIN NOTE: (We thusly and appropriately go to BEAT 3 of the scene. So if anYbody wishes to use any final new or improved ability totals, please let me know)
“I think it’s a jamming device… but I’m not certain. Placement is ideal for a trap, but its not like any trap I’ve seen. I’m going to shoot it with my EMP rifle. Should disable it safely at this distance, whatever it is.” Able stands behind Fabron. Best grips her cane tightly, magging her pistol. She rams the tip of the cane into the soft stone. “
“Okay do it”, Best orders. Freiberg takes aim and fires. The EMP rifle charges up with a WHRRRRRRRRRRR as a blue bar charges along it. And a precise, spheroid of energy flies from the barrel. It’s an amazing shot. It hits the cube precisely, with no splash against the rock. The energy flows across the surface of the device briefly.
Best relaxes. “Good shot. No cave-in. Good sign. All right… lets see if we can get you a close look at this thing.” Able slides back to make look like he never hid behind Fabron.
“Damn I’m good.” Freiberg recharges the EMP rifle and then advances with the others.
“Yes, that you are.” Best paces ahead of the others. Able covers the rear with his scanner. “So which are we following? The thieves or my made up creature that may or may not have eaten two miners?” Fabron asks.
“Didn’t they stay together?” Able asks.
“Apparently not”, says Best, thirty foot from the cube. As the cube begins to vibrate. “Oh hell. Must have been shielded…” And then the tunnel walls start to vibrate with the cube.
“You didn’t check the EM field had stopped?!”
“It had! It just kicked in!”
The tunnel vibrates, but not heavily enough to do more than just drop some sediment… so far at least “What? I don’t… I didn’t….. but it was such a good shot….” Freiberg stare disbelievingly at her rifle (rather than, say, doing anything helpful)
“It’s fine Freiberg… we just need to deactivate it before someone notices we’re coming. Can you hack it?”
Best is under the device, looking at it, gauging it. Best seems pretty collected
“Maybe its the induction coils – but I checked them… I always check them.” She seems to be talking about the emp rifle, not the device. She also seems to be entirely unaware Best said anything….
Best slaps her hands on Freiberg’s shoulders. “Freiberg! Listen! Can it be hacked!?” She leans right in, visor against visor.
Able jolts suddenly, then stops and takes in deep breaths. The vibrations continue at the same rate, they don’t increase, but continue to pulse. SLAM. The rock shakes a little more… some kind of distant impact pounds. SLAM. “Shit… ” Best curses. “Fabron! Since you know so much… I reckon left is death, what about right?” Best is holding onto Freiberg, but looking back at Fabron
Freiberg looks up at the vibrating thing, past Best as if she isn’t even there, and mutters “Shielded, then played dead, then barked…. good dog. Smarter than me. I guess I get eaten now…”
“We go right. Before my imaginary friend arrives”, Fabron says. ROAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. The roar echoes from afar and then echoes down the tunnel. SLAM. SLAM. SLAM, SLAM, SLAM.
“You heard the CCO! Off to the right!” Best wraps her arms around Freiberg. “FUCKING RUN!”
Freiberg does stumble into a run, probably more motivated by the roaring than her commanding officer. She still keeps looking bad at the vibrating object though, so she’ll be going slower than everyone else. Able will run and try and push ‘Daddy’s Princess’ forward. Best helps able, hooking an arm under Freiberg’s right and tugging her along. Fabron just runs for it. Able has a good pace, and Best has a good grip on Freiberg, almost dragged along by Able’s frantic run. Freiberg falls to her knees, almost pulling Best onto her. Best jams her cane into the stone and holds herself up. However, Freiberg is a gibbering wreck. Best hauls Freiberg to her feet and then hauls her over a shoulder. Able runs alongside Best, though Best is hardly going at speed, not being exactly big and muscular. Freiberg is still holding onto her EMP rifle, with as much determination as if it were her own child (rather than magging it to her armour again, which would be safer and more sensible). Fabron, knowing where he’s going, propels ahead. SLAM, SLAM, SLAM. Fabron propels to the end of the corridor, whilst Best can barely walk with Frieberg’s even petit weight on her shoulders
“Able, I told you to fucking RUN! That’s a god-damned order!”
“Civilian consultant” he helps Best…. to the best he is able (Ben wrote this… I am keeping it in.
“Fuck you and your fucking HEROISM…” SLAMSLAMSLAMSLAMSLAMROAAAAAAAAAR. Fabron runs to the end of the tunnel, off to the right. The pounding against the rock getting louder and quicker on his left. “That’s OUR FUCKING JOB!” Best can be heard yelling whilst the camera focusses on Fabron, who turns right… into a dead end. Looks at the wall. Inside the helmet there is a moment of confusion and a hint of fear in his usually dead eyes. He turns drawing his weapon, his eyes returning to their usually steely stare…
Fabron notices that the wall ahead slopes. Up towards a hole… just begin enough to crawl through…
SLAMSLAMSLAMSLAM. The camera cuts between Fabron and the others, Best, barely able to walk, staggering forward. Raises the gun, hesitates, looks at the hole. The camera flicks between the tiny escape hole and the cavern with its echoing slamming. Fabron’s eyes shift barely perceptibly to his team mates…. who are still about 40ft from Fabron
“Why is no-one fucking RUNNNING!?” Best screams… in a very angry manner. Slung over Best’s shoulder, Freiberg has her head facing back behind the others. One hand still clutches the EMP rifle as she gazes into the tunnel behind you, shuddering.
“Oh dear….this is a conundrum”, Able says. And with that, Fabron turns back again. As a gigantic claw comes round the corner, digging into the wall, about 20ft down from Fabron. A clawed hand as big as the front of a semi truck. With a seemingly never-ending arm behind it, with four claws.
Freiberg gives a scream of terror, but possible also mixed with defiance. With her free right hand, she grabs the flare pistol from her hip, and fires at the creature wildly… and surprisingly accurately. The Doctor quickly draws and throws test tubes from his belt and drops a few things inside from his little finger tip hole. They start fizzing as he throws all three as he yells “Apologies!” And then the camera goes into slow motion. As the flare flies through the air, bright blue, flying right at the audience.
The three bottles of fizzing, sparking, chemical follow behind, blobs of liquid slowly flying into the camera lens from all directions.
“Fuccccccccccckinggggggggggg hellllll!”Best yells, as she fires her his pistol.
Fabron raises his gun, his expression emotionless as always. He waits until he sights the beast. His eyes flick to his escape route again as his inner conflict shifts again. He lines up a shot on the beast….
And then raises the weapon firing
As the slow motion slug flies through the air, the Monster’s head comes round the corner. Almost entirely filling the tunnel. Fabron sees it from the front, the others see the head from the side.As one claw holds it in the wall, and the other claw lunges for Fabron. Its scales are red, its head is a massive circle of yellow, blinking, reptilian eyes and within the circle of eyes is a circular maw, each fang twice as tall as Fabron, its claws, about twice his length. Repeated bullets hit the ceiling above the head. The flare goes towards an eye, but as the head moves towards, it sticks in the scales at the side of the head instead. Whilst the chemicals arc off to the right. As the rubble starts to fall, the bottles are smashed apart, releasing corrosive and explosive chemicals onto the beast’s face. It roars out as a claw sparks against Fabron’s armour. The eyelids instinctively close off as the chemicals splash. Fabron doesn’t do as much as flinch back. And the rubble collapses The tunnel fills with dust
GMING NOTES: new narrative scene! This’ll likely be a hasty one…)
Best lies on the floor, Freiberg splayed next to her, flare gun lying on the ground. Able, however, is on his feet as the dust clears and he can see a massive pile of rock ahead of them. And no sign of Fabron
“S-so everyone else saw the giant monster, right?” Freiberg says, seemingly back to sanity
“Yes. Yes we did”, Best replies.
“…..next time I should really add 1.75% more zinc”, Able muses the turns to the others. “I do hope enough survived for an autopsy.”
The intersection is gone, just covered by rubble. Rubble that is shaking
The film then cuts to the surface of Mars. There is a three foot diameter hole in the ground; There is a SLAM SLAM SLAM sound from below. A hand grabs the edge of the hole and Fabron pulls himself out. He stands and catches his breath. He looks down critically and dusts himself off before going in search of the others, unsure if they got out, and not much caring at this point. We then cut down into the tunnel, as the rock shakes. SLAM, SLAM, SLAM.
“Its still alive. We need to retreat. Now” says Best. “If it lives in these tunnels, I doubt rock will hold it for long.”
“I have an idea….” Freiberg says.
“Blow the roof?”
Freiberg’s eyepiece is down again – must have happened sometime in her crazy-carried-time. “Something like that.”
The hole has no Fabron by it any more. The camera zooms out. There is nothing but barren red rock. And a figure in Corps armour, running. And then a massive shadow passes over, a boxy shape with two wings, each with flickering to the edge of their shadow. The shadows hovers in place. SMASH, SMASH, SMASH.
Fabron, is fortunately running like Usain Bolt.
Back underground, Freiberg has her wrist-pad open. Best is backing off a little, cane in one hand, pistol in the other “Convenient surface hole – ooh, and is that Fabron on the surface? Hold onto your butts….” Freiberg warns. In her eyepiece you can see her purple cheek illuminated by the glow of red lettering. ‘TARGET’, then ‘FIRE’, as she presses a wrist-pad button. As we cut to the dropship cam, as the hole cracks and a massive red-brown lizard claw bursts out of the ground, followed by the whole forearm, the height of a semi-detached house
As a rocket fires from the dropship. The claw slams into the ground and pulls its upper body out of the ground. Fabron, running, can’t help but look back. The massive form screeches as all of its twenty eyes lock on the rocket, which blasts it in the face. Four of its eyes are horribly burned as it screeches, scoops up a rock and throws it as the dropship
The dropships dodges… barely…
GMING NOTES: (ACTION SCENE! The action scene begins with the most appropriate character… no time wasted rolling on it… we shall therefore go with Freiberg, what with attacking, then Fabron, Able, Best, The Monster of Mars. You take both your abilities in turn, taking a whole beat at a time. You use the action scene passive total for passives… which is lower…)
Freiberg’s voice is heard, but the camera remains focussed on the surface and the dropship cam view. “Well it’s wounded… and on the surface….. and angry.” Brinhilda’s engines rotate so she half hovers, half dances in the air, opening fire with her mounted assault rifle in bursts. As the assault rifle rattles away, the creature blinks all its eyes and heads back down the tunnel as the tracer fire rattles away. The bullets tears through two more eyes before it heads underground. “Okay, NOW we run!” says Best. Freiberg is already slinking off down the tunnel, but not exactly running. As instructed, Able runs this time, at a fare pelt. Best runs with Able, cane in one hand, pistol in the other, as usual. Freiberg, slower, partially controlling the ship, is behind them as the Monster of Mars bursts through the rubble. Looking for safety… looking for the marines.. it hardly matters…
It shoots down the tunnel at the marines, it’s sinious, serpentine body, shimmering down the tunnel, anchoring and dragging its bulk with its two forelimbs, mouth wide open, as it comes right at the camera. And at Freiberg. She screams like a girl (because she is one). A claw slams into the wall around Freiberg and closes around her. The closed fist, oddly almost humanoid looking, rears back to the mouth and opens as Freiberg is tossed towards the mouth. The camera slows as Freiberg is tossed through the air, about 15ft from the mouth.
The second claw lashes out. It slams into Best as three of the four claws on the hand go straight through Best’s body. Best explodes into pieces, blood spraying over Able. Able continues to power on even faster
Flying towards the mouth in midair, Freiberg has nothing to grab onto or push off, and no way to avert her fate. but she does still have the eyepiece and the wristcomm.
“Tell Daddy I went out like a Viking!” she screams. Brunhilda swoops down the enormous tunnel left by the thing where it fled. Its bulk blocks any chance of the dropship getting to Freiberg, even if she had time to. We cut inside the cockpit, the bulk of the Monster of Mars filling the glass. On the control screen, the words ‘remote running’ are illuminated, and below them, ‘combat speed’ suddenly changing to ‘escape velocity’ as the engines roar. At the rear of the creature is a long whipping serpentine tail. There are no forelegs. The ship zeros in and flies down the tail all the way up the back, as Freiberg falls into the mouth, just as the dropship smashes it in the back of the head.
Able looks back as a dropship smashes out through the ruin of the Monster’s head, caked in bright yellow blood, as the dropship wings strike the walls
Able glimpses Freiberg on the front of the dropship, clinging onto it, as the windscreen cracks. her blood streaked across it. Her body already broken by the impact, Freiburg simply murmurs “like a valkyrie”, almost like a child lost in the joy of flying.
“Spectacular……..” Able struggles to say anything else. The right plasma engine smashes into the tunnel wall and explodes, engulfing the dropship in blue plasma fire. The ship spins towards Able. The remaining engine strikes the floor and blasts a plasma wave towards Able. He looks to the wave and throws his body with all he has screaming to the heavens ” ooooooohhhhh sssssshhhhiiii…” he flies forward and the world slows down to a snails crawl, as the scene cuts to black.
We cut to a steel walled office. A black gloved hand, in a very old school fashion, writes with a fountain pen. “It is hard to ascertain if the descent of the drop ship was deliberate or a malfunction.” The scene cuts to show the ruins of the dropship, scattered across the tunnel, as miners in orange suits search through the wreckage.
Fabron replaces the lid on the pen and places it carefully on the desk. He gets up. Checks his mirror. Neatens his hair. Reties his shoes. And then he heads to his next briefing as if nothing happened
Then we cut to Miss Chi, looking over a com-pad.
Miss Chi reads from the com-pad. “… after the unfortunate demise of the military police investigators, I returned with my report to the Corps. They were able to trace the two thieves back to a thought abandoned complex… I believe you are familiar. A part of the old corporation that ran the government. RedPLanet. Of course, the Corps cannot intervene in local disputes on an independent planet. And the evidence we have of the theft is circumstantial at best. However, the mining machine RedPlanet were using… not intended to kill your miners, an unintended side-effect… has been destroyed. You understand such technology had to be destroyed. We suggest, now you know Redplanet still exists, and are stealing ore to make weapons, that perhaps you give your government these grid coordinates. Mars are important trade partners. Should Mars be embroiled in civil war… we will of course be able to help.
“Corps Command Operative 5409.”
The camera cuts back down to the tunnel where workers search through the wreck. with no sign of the Monster’s body except for a tiny, gobbet of sizzling melting red flesh… which dissolves away
“Hey, we found a survivor!”The camera cuts. As several men lift up a broken wing.
“Did any of you manage to secure a sample?” The camera cuts to Able; half of his face is missing, one arm is gone and both of his legs are stumps. Where half of his face is missing, is part of a metal skull. The eyes, bright blue. And where the stumps of the limbs are, pieces of metal protrude and spark. His chest armour has been opened, and some of the synthetic flesh as well. “Sample of what?”
ROLL END CREDITS (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v–IqqusnNQ)