Author's Note: This is a transcription, a retelling, of the most epic day of my life, a LARP at Westfinder. The original story was written by Ben Books Schwartz and Jesse Riemer. The following story comes from my, or rather my character's, experience of the game. It was a pretty amazing game, day, experience, and it makes a pretty amazing story. No foreknowlede is necessary to understand. Read and review!
I own none of the characters, ideas, or anything, but merely wished to convey my own experience of the pure awesomeness!
TOO SOON FORGOTTEN
In the late 22nd Century, humanity left Earth. We began to spread to the stars, extending our reach, as we overflowed our planetary cradle. We discovered quickly that we are alone in the universe-but we were not always.
The galaxy was full of the remains of long-gone civilizations. Planets had been terraformed, starships were still in orbit, satellite habitats still hung empty above the ghost cities that spawned them. All signs pointed to a single mass extinction event, tens of thousands of years ago, that somehow wiped out dozens of different interplanetary governments. We had never been able to figure out exactly what caused this. Most planets with ruins were considered restricted territory, and were heavily policed to prevent looters and other profiteers.
Nonetheless, we had been able to reverse-engineer very advanced technologies from everything we found. It was now the year 2347, and we had faster-than-light starships, short-range teleporters, and nanoparticle medical kits that could easily patch up small wounds. The Sol Systems Union, a collective of numerous star cluster governments, ruled over most of known space. They governed fairly effectively, but there was always plenty of unrest, especially at the fringes.
Professor Meredith Alistair, the leader of our expedition, was something of a legend in modern archaeology. The daughter of famous archaeologist Andrew Alistair, she devoted herself quite singularly to the study of the various long-lost races. She was known as something of a wild card, though, a crazy adventuresome archaeologist. Those foolish enough to tag along with her tended to get arrested for things like stealing priceless artifacts or breaking into sites sealed by the government. Her papers were often called into question by the academic community, her actions incredibly controversial, but there's no doubt that she's a groundbreaking genius.
And now she led us all here. To some strange planet in the middle of nowhere, which seemed most certainly off-limits to the general public. She said she'd obtained permission, but that's somewhat questionable. At any rate, the planet had a number of major ruins, that look absolutely fascinating. Even more interesting, it somehow seemed inhabited, by what appeared to be a primitive tribe of locals. Ranged scans indicated them to be human, but they show no major energy signatures hinting to any advanced technology.
My name was Miranda Nyx, investigative journalist extraordinaire. There are few things quite as exciting as the thrill of tracking down a good story. I figured that out when I was twelve, and uncovered a major scandal at my school involving a number of other students cheating. I caught the mastermind and turned him in, and felt very clever.
That was four years ago, and you're now a successful investigative journalist. ... sort of.
With modern anti-aging technology, everyone looked like a teenager, including people in their thirties. Which meant all I needed was a false identity to apply to a major netsite and be picked up, and start doing what I loved all the time: living an adventure and chasing stories. I already knew everything they were teaching me in school, and I read enough that I figured I could catch up on anything I missed. I was ready for a new job.
Only problem, they weren't ready for me. They wanted to see some practical experience in the field. Still, a little thing like that couldn't deter me. I created my own netsite, a blog, . By the time the expedition began, I had something of a following—about a billion subscribers, and more who simply read the blog on a day-to-day basis. Not too substantial in an intergalactic federation that spanned the galaxy, but not too shabby at all for a sixteen-year-old who had no experience and had been supporting herself for the last four years. All I needed was one big break, and in my mind, this expedition was the key to my success. A planet with ruins that were inhabited? This brought up questions about everything Sol Systems Union had told us about the ruins, the ancient technology, the catastrophe that killed everything. And besides that amazing story, there was always some interesting tidbits my research had uncovered about a rather shady side of the Alistair family history. I planned to confront Meredith about it after I got some good information for the other story. Something involving her missing father, and a secret military sect of the government called the Vedette Society.
I wasn't even doing it for the NewsUnlimited job that I was sure to receive after this one big break. I could sense the story of a lifetime in this one, and nothing was going to keep me away.
I actually owed my cousin and close friend Emmelin for the information in the first place. She was somewhat of a slacked in med school, her parents paying her way, and she considered this a nice "vacation", because archaeologists don't get injured looking at old buildings, not in real life at least, and it might look good on her resume, this internship.
The expedition was headed by, of course, Professor Meredith Alistair, and her on-again-off-again boyfriend and colleague, Dr. Chapman. A rival professor (who she had once dated! What a story there!), Professor Lyssandra Markos, and anthropologist (and she made sure to explain to everyone the important difference) came along as well, to look at the ancient languages and study the primitive tribe while they were still alive, the first great find in over two centuries in her field. She brought along her wife, Sylva Terran, a kind woman who became the mother hen of the group (and the only one who actively read my blog—she complimented me on my writing style!) and her graduate student, Daniel O'Neil, a very uptight man. Professor Meredith also had a few graduate students, her personal assistant Lisa, and Lisa's sixteen-year-old brother, Jakon Darian. I knew him from middle school—he was quite a bully—and he had a chance to ruin this all if he recognized me and blew my cover!
Em and I basically hung out around the medical bay, with Hunter Chappman, Dr. Chappman's mentally challenged brother. Both of them were into parting, and best friends, although I had no idea what she saw in him. I quickly became friends with Lucian, who was quiet and mysterious, but seemed fairly reliable. His father had taught him a bit about medicine, and mechanics, so when he wasn't needed fixing up the ship he liked to hang out around the med bay and look at the equipment. We became friends of sorts, although I think he was a bit more interested in me than that. I liked him well enough, only I was seventeen years younger than he thought me to be. Besides, I was on this ship for adventure, not romance.
As our journey across deep space progressed, the bickering developed into the same old arguments. Professor Markos was always at Professor Meredith's throat for the time they dated, and how scatterbrained she was, but it quickly became apparent that it was became Meredith was a tenured professor and Markos, despite her skill, was not. Actually, the whole anthropologist side of the expedition seemed to be in a constant state of competition with the archaeologist side as to who was better, who was more important. Sylva made everyone sandwiches, and tried to convince Lisa to ask Daniel out, as they both liked each other but were too shy or too oblivious to say. Lisa and Jakon fought about whether or not his internship meant he could come to the planet with all of us.
This is my story, but it is all of theirs, too. I have compiled the following from personal experience, notes, interviews, and speculation. This is our history. This is the one night of horror that everything, across the whole universe, was changed irrevocably.
The first thing the Alistair expedition did was notice some sort of structure, a hut, at the bottom of the hill. They hurried towards it, slipping in the mud and scrambling around. Of course, the first thing everyone noticed were two mysterious series of runes on the posts near the entrance.
Everyone gathered to the first as the professors tried to translate them, Miranda and Sylva scribbling down the symbols. Finally, they put together a statement, "What once was wrong now is KR." The last word, they all decided, but be some local statement to the planet.
Jakon already ran to the other runes and sighed, "Don't bother, they're the same." Daniel and Miranda quickly ran over to check, and realized he didn't know a thing about linguistics, because although the runes started similarly, they certainly were quite different. These were translated to read "Where once was corrupt is now pure." Rather ominous statements, Miranda decided as she scribbled them down in her note pad.
"Alright, this is an amazing find for the day, let's go back to the ship, get some supper, and come down tomorrow, bright and early," Meredith announced happily. She fiddled with the transmitter from her archeaologist's pack, a confused wrinkle forming on her forehead. "What's wrong? It's not working."
Lucian took it from her, scrutinizing it. "As far as I can tell, it looks fine, but it still appears to be jammed somehow. But my expertise isn't in radio equipment." The group stood in silence for a moment as the implications sank in. They were all academics, expected to survive in the wild for a night on a strange planet?
"Is there any way we can signal the ship? Any flares?" Miranda volunteered.
"No, we'll just…" Meredith trailed off, and the silence grew as all pondered what to do.
Suddenly, whoops and lights came from over the hill. "I think that's the tribe!" Miranda hissed.
"I heard something, and saw lights! I think that's the tribe! We could probably shelter with them! Or at least get a story!" She was not happy with the way that the expedition was going so horribly awry before it barely had started.
Everyone stood around Meredith's lantern as she marched towards the lights, leading the little group. As they made their way over a mound, a mirror scene greeted them: the shaman of the tribe, dressed in blue and white rune-covered robes, holding a staff and a skull and leading a confused group of natives towards the expidition.
"My name is Meredith. Meredith Alistair. Can you understand me?" Meredith said slowly.
"This is ridiculous," Markos hissed. "They speak an entirely different language, and you're damaging their culture by exposing them to flashlights and electrical lanterns and—"
"Meredith Alistair," the shaman replied.
"See?" she said smugly. "He understands!"
"No, he doesn't!" Markos insisted. "He's just repeating what you—"
"Who are you?" Meredith asked. "What's your name?"
"I am the shaman and elder of the tribe. I look at the stars and interpret the will of the gods. Who are you? Do you come in peace?"
In the beginning Miranda stuck with the professors as extracted the story from the tribe, and participated in the Soul-Binding ritual. However, her cousin Emilson and Hunter snuck off, so she and Lucian decided to go find them, and try to look at the forbidden Temple while they were at it. You have to understand, Em and Hunter were not the most responsible people, probably the last who ought to be sneaking around forbidden places.
On the way to the Temple, other search parties went out, and chaos trying to avoid lights and avoid being seen ensued, made creepier by the more and more frequent sounds of screams of horror which ran through the woods. Finally, Professor Markos stumbled crying onto thier path, screaming, "They killed my wife! They killed my Sylva!" Despite the chaos and hysterics that ensued, the shaman managed to convince everyone to go to the meetinghouse.
Markos was sobbing, and kept repeating of her wife's death, but she didn't see anything. Emilson, who joined the group, confused, as they all gathered in the hut, was also sobbing about how creatures with scythe-like appendages slew Hunter. The tribe kept screaming at the Expeditions strangers, accusing them of killing their wives and children.
Miranda pulled Meredith to the side, deciding it was time to confront her. Hissing how it might be life or death, she asked if she knew anything about the Vedette Society.
From the road came a group of people, wearing black vests over white, and black gas masks They were carrying guns, and if one must take a guess, one might suppose safeties off. Perhaps from the way they held themselves, or glared at the civilians from behind the masks, but somehow they didn't seem to friendly. "We are the Vedette Society," the leader announced, "And if you don't want to be killed by the Ancients, you'll come with us."
Quickly, they surrounded the villagers, herding them into the road. Miranda picked up the leader's name, Anubis, from the shouts.
She wasn't satisfied. She stalked after the leader, this so-called Anubis. "Who are you? What's going on? Where are you talking this? What is the Vedette Society, and when was it founded?"
"Not important," he growled.
"Well, I think it's rather important!" she shot back. "A secret militant sect of the government, founded by Andrew Alistair about thirty years ago, right before he disappeared."
Suddenly, his light shone in her face, blinding her. "How do you know about Andrew Alistair?"
"I'm a investigative repoter," she replied smugly. "It's my job to know."
He turned around, and stalked down the hill. "I hate journalists."
Determined to have the last word, Miranda sputtered, "Well I hate you, pointing your guns at us, not letting us know what's going on!"
"Anubis!" one of the masked gunmen called. "They're coming! We've got to move out!"
The Vedette Society formed a line, protecting the hysterical civilians as they streamed down the hill. Miranda, however, refused to be cheated of her story. She hid at the edge of road and tried to squint out the action, a very difficult feat with the guns-shots, demon-like screeches, screams, and crunching of twigs underfoot.
Suddenly, one of the creatures jumped out from behind her and wrapped its scythe-arms around her neck. So this is the end, she thought. This is how I die. I'm only sixteen, I don't want to die, please don't kill me, I'm just a kid. She was so hysterical that she didn't realize she began babbling this out loud. However, her life didn't flash before her eyes, she didn't feel a sharp hot pain across her throat, no, instead the creature began to drag her off into the woods.
She realized she was being kidnapped, not murdered, and her struggles increased. Kicking, screaming, scratching, she managed to escape from its horrifying grasp. Gasping, she ran with the rest of the stragglers and the Vedette Society, resolving not to sneak off again.
Anubis stood in front of them at the crossroads, and all the civilians gathered into a circle. "These KR (kur) wiped out the universe tens of thousands of years ago. They killed all sentient life," he explained coldly. "Now they want to do it again. They have a machine that summons their legions from the abyss. This machine has already been activated, and it cannot be undone." He paused for affect. "All we can hope to do is deprive the machine of its fuel."
Miranda got a very bad feeling, and extinguished her light and snuck out of the circle, behind into the woods. Behind her, the soldiers were circling the civilians.
"What's their fuel?" someone shouted out nervously.
"Human souls," he snarled. "Ready, aim, FIRE!"
Miranda could only stare in shock as half of her party was gunned down before her eyes. The rest fled like her, although without her head start. "Split up into pairs, and hunt them down!" Anubis instructed. Miranda sprinted another few meters, then dropped flat on the ground as flashlights shone in the spot she had just stood. She turned, peering at the scene unfolding before her.
Meredith stepped out of the bushes behind, with an aura of frustration and anger. "What do you know about my father?" she demanded. "Where is he?"
Anubis just looked amused at the sight of the fuming professor. "Busy," he sneered. "Now, because you're his daughter, I'll give you a ten second head start. Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven..." Meredith began to waver, then sprinted off, right into the arms of an Ancient. Thus ended the life of the brave, adventurous, partially insane Meredith Alistair.
In the underbrush, Miranda army-crawled to two other figures lying on the ground, Em and Lucian. "We wait for them to move out, then follow the lights. I can still salvage a story out of this!" she urged, numb with shock.
"Miranda! Are you crazy! They're combing the woods!"
"So we wait until they move out! We can't just stay here! We have to know what's happening!" A series of gunshots and screams punctured her words.
"You can piece together the story afterwards!" Em hissed. "Not if you're dead. Now, we hide out in the woods and try not to get shot." Miranda started shivering, and quickly conceded.
"Now, onto the real problem-there's dog poo on my shoe!"
Lucian quickly raised his light, and ignoring Miranda's hissed, "No! They'll see you!" he shone it on her foot.
Unfortunately, the light attracted attention, but luckily, it was civilian attention. Another tribesman quickly joined the three, and they began hunting for other civilians to lead away from danger.
After a horrifyingly long time of hiding in the woods, ducking away from flashlights, avoiding hostile forces from both sides, they were lying on the ground again, and Miranda had a moment to think. What were their options? Getting their souls ripped out and fed to a machine of evil, being shot by the Vedette society...
Suddenly, she remembered they had a ship in orbit, and all they needed was a transmitter to request teleportation off of this hell-hole. Some people could survive after all.
She explained her plan in low voice to her friends, but they looked at her as if she were insane. Below, the Kr and the Vedettes faced off, then the soldiers retreated, leaving the Kr surrounding a fallen figure.
"This could be a fallen Vedette," Miranda hissed. "This is our change to get a transmitter."
"No!" Em cried, but it was too late. Miranda was already sprinting down the hill, waving her flashlight and screaming, in an insane attempt to scare the Kr away from the fallen figure. Unfortunately, the Kr had flashlights of their own, and were not scared by her technology. No, instead, they just looked rather hungry...
"Wait!" she begged. "If you let me go to the Vedettes, I can grab the transmitter, and get more people from the ship! More human souls!"
"More human souls?" one of the creatures hissed. Miranda thought she recognized the reanimated body of one of the tribesmen. "I like the sound of that." She tried not to retch at the disgusting demon voice, but instead hurried to the fallen figure but it was only one of the Kr. She dropped her head in her hands. Her plan, everything, was gone to ruin, and she would die for naught.
Suddenly, flashlights shone from the road, and Miranda leapt out of the line of fire just in time as a troop of Vedettes gunned down the party of Kr holding her captive. She closed her eyes, hoped for best, then shouted out from behind the tree, "Please, don't shoot! I have a plan to get the civilians off the planet alive!"
"Step out and put down your weapons," one of the soldiers commanded.
She stepped into the glare of the lights, her empty hands in the air. "We've got a ship in orbit," she babbled. "I only need a transmitter, and we've got teleports, and we can get the civilians off this planet alive. Please don't kill me!"
They nodded. "Anubis has the transmitter. You can stay with us." Suddenly, more Kr attacked, and they back up, sniping down the abominations.
Miranda stuck with them, hiding behind the guns, as they retreated to the Vedette's base. There, Anubis joined them, glaring his disapproval as he realized a civilian-and probably the most nosy, annoying reporter he had ever met, to say the least-had joined his party. His flashlight, and therefore his gun, pointed straight in her face.
"Wait, please don't kill me, I have a plan, I only need the transmitter to contact my ship and then I can get all of these people off of the planet alive and there will be less humans for you to track down and we all don't have to die!" she sobbed.
He glared at her for a second, letting her fear grow, before he curtly handed her the transmitter. "You won't get a signal here," he warned. "In fact, the only place you'll get a signal is at the Ancient's center of technology." He raised his voice, addressing the rest of the Vedettes. "There are too many Kr. We're being overrun. They have enough souls to send the signal and open the Abyss, awakening Kr from all across the galaxy. Our only hope is to nuke them." He turned to Miranda again. "If you stick close to me, you might just get off of this planet alive."
She exhaled quietly. "But you'll die. All of you will die. You have to set the nuke with a timer, then you can all escape with me."
"I have better things to do than worrying about not dying," he snapped.
"But no one will no your story," she cried. "No one will know what a hero you were."
"Then it will be your job to tell them, journalist." With that, he took off running over the hill.
"I didn't even get my interview," Miranda moaned under her breath, then sprinted after him.
Ahead, a great number of Kr milled around, but the Vedettes broke right through and not letting their momentum go to waste, raced towards the great signal machine. Miranda arranged for teleportation, but hung back as the Vedettes hooked the bomb to the Kr technology. The rest of the Vedettes kept the surrounding legion of Kr at bay. It looks like everything might end well.
"Come on! Let's go!" she pleaded.
Suddenly, with a Kr-like cackle, one of the Vedettes turned on her fellow soldiers and shot them down. Miranda took a bullet to the high left shoulder and fell to the ground, screaming. With their nanovests instantly healing them, it wasn't fatal, but it was enough to let the Kr overrun them. Miranda stood up, only to be sliced in the upper right arm and knocked back to the ground by one of the creatures.
Anubis met her eyes. "Run. If you get to the top of the hill, they'll pick up your signal, and you'll survive."
Blinking away tears, dirt, and blood, she nodded and half ran half crawled, as fast as her injured limbs could carry her.
The terrain resembled that of a bog, and she slipped and fell in the mud many times, but at last she made it to the top of the hill. With the last of her breath, she transmitted, "Requesting immediate teleportation. Emergency. Requesting immediate teleportation now." The nauseating pins-and-needles feeling overcame her, and suddenly, she was kneeling of the floor of the ship.
"Message Andrew Alistair," she insisted. "I need to talk to Andrew Alistair, the Vedette Society."
She let out one last sobbing breath, then slumped over, unconscious from blood loss.
The rest of the story she pieced together from watching the tapes from the ship's viewing platform. The Kr surrounded Anubis, killing him again and again as he regenerated, until finally an Ancient ripped out his soul and possessed his body with the spirit of the leader of the Ancients. Someone had managed to disable the signal in all the insanity, but he quickly fixed it and sent out the transmission, awakening all the Kr across the galaxy. Their celebration did not last long, however, for the time nuclear explosion banished them all back to the Abyss.
And I, Miranda Nyx, had a few choice words with Andrew Alistair before we began waging a galaxy-wide war against the Kr. We track down their planets and destroy them, train the humans to fight, and protect our strongholds as we grow in number and technology in a desperate attempt to survive. They may have wiped out all sentient life tens of thousands of years ago, but the humans are here now, and we're going to stay.
Thus the Sphinx Resistance, and the war for our survival, was born.