Q. Steve Dougson makes for a surprisingly chatty bus driver, considering he’s a ghost in a shell. He has loads of great stories about being manager of Unified Western Wrestling from its formation in 1986 until his death by lightning strike in 2012. Some of you actually remember watching that on TV.
“And after I died,” he says, “I thought: ‘Shewt.’ So much wrestling left to be done. And I was all set to try out my next business venture, Xtreme League Baseball, too. The trial games were good. Any of y’all ever see full contact baseball? I tell ya…”
You’re up on some major elevated highway now. The surrounding countryside is flat, and through the barred windows you can make out swamps and warehouses and whole abandoned cities. Occasional snow flurries form drifts on the asphalt.
“So where are we?” asks Nora, cutting off an anecdote about how Q. Steve once punched out the Australian prime minister. “Is this still Canada? I need to find my baby.”
“What? No, this is Florida.”
You all perk up at that.
“Aw jeeze,” says Harley Quinn. “And here Oi thought we was someplace classy, like-”
You never find out what Harley thinks constitutes class. Something slams into the bus, and you go into a spin on the icy road.
“CONSARN IT,” yells Q. Steve, and he curses like Yosemite Sam as he tries to steer out of the skid. But there’s another slam, and the bus goes into the Jersey barriers at 45 miles an hour. The bus caroms off them and tips onto its side. You’re thrown from your seats against a wall.
Everything goes still. Outside, you can hear the pursuit vehicle overshoot you, then lock its wheels and double back.
“REMAIN CALM,” yells Q. Steve. The cowboy hat taped to his metal head is flapping loose as he kicks out the windshield. “I’ve been in five or six bus accidents now, and what you do is” – a gunshot blows out the rest of the windshield for him – “GOD ALMIGHTY.”
You kick the emergency exit open and scramble out onto the deserted highway. The pursuit vehicle is an armored car idling a stone’s throw away. The driver climbs out. Her frizzy brown hair is pulled back in a braid that snaps in the wind as she pumps an empty shell out of her shotgun.
“Ma’am,” says Q. Steve, “this is official business” – she shoots him, the buckshot dinging his MOSP body in a dozen spots – “and I really have to ask that” – she shoots him again – “that you desist” – again – “ma’am, please” – again – “lady, I really mean it, I have” – and again.
You cower next to the bus. There are no more shots.
“You can come out,” says the woman, almost cheerfully. “You came from the Lunapool Reactivation Center, right? Old city hall? I’m here to help?”
Captain Video stands up, feeling the need to set a good example, and dusts off his uniform. “Greetings,” he says. “I am Captain Video, leader of the Video Rangers. And what should we call you?”
She cracks an incredulous smile. “You can call me anything you like, but my name is Veronica.”
The rest of you stand up and follow Captain Video around the side of the bus. Q. Steve’s MOSP lies face-down on the pavement, one of its glass panes shattered. It’s empty inside.
“Did you… kill him?” asks Zap Rowsdower. He pulls a beer out of a pocket and slurps it contemplatively as he nudges the robot body with his boot.
“Nah,” says Veronica, reloading as she talks. “I just unbound him. Whatever connects ghosts to their MOSPs gives out if you breach the hull. They’ll put him back together later, if that’s what you’re worried about.” She loads six rounds, pumps one into the chamber, and loads a seventh. “C’mon, we need to get out of here before a drone patrol sees us.”
You pile into the back of the truck, which is windless but warm. There’s a TV screen showing Veronica’s face while she drives.
“This is two-way,” she said. “I need to ask some quick questions. Are you the cryosleep study patients from” – she pauses to consult a sticky note on the dash – “Manitoba Cryonics?”
“Survey says,” says Steve Harvey. “YES.”
“Okay, cool.” She reaches into a door pocket and comes back with what you realize is a homemade vape pen. “You were frozen in 2020. It’s 2063 now. Some stuff has changed.” There’s a lurch as she pulls onto a side ramp.
“Did that strange man say we were in Florida?” says Face. “I’m not sure I’m allowed here.”
“It used to be. Hold on.”
She pulls into a building, and the video feed goes dark. You hear the engine shut off, and then she opens up the back door.
“Welcome to the Lunapool Mall,” she says. “Maybe you’ll feel more at home here.”
She’s parked in the middle of a foyer. Around you all are shuttered, darkened shops. Dusky light filters down from dirty skylights, dimly illuminating dead plants and the occasional dusty mannequin. Some of the signage is still up – an M&Ms store, a Thomas Kinkade gallery – but everything is thick with dust.
“This place shut down during the COVID pandemic and never reopened,” she says, as you drink it all in. “It’s kind of complicated, but I had reason to believe there was a time machine here at one point, in the old Sears.”
“One of us had a time machine,” says Nolan Austin, absentmindedly studying a mannequin’s jawline.
“What?” says Veronica. “Who?”
“Oh, we threw them out the back of the bus. Suspicious behavior.” He looks around. “Are there any teeth around here?”
Veronica stares at him, then faces the rest of you. “There was a woman working at the lab you were all frozen at. She might have called herself Ada?” Nodding. “Okay, cool. She rules Earth now. And she took over with the stuff you were all frozen with.”
You stare at her, and she walks over to the dusty mannequin Nolan was studying. She blows on it, and the dust flies away. It’s a person – a man – frozen in place. His body is covered in a film of iridescent crystals.
“In 2038, the Prismatic Rain fell across the Earth. The Iadolantheans seeded the clouds with the stasis chemical and froze people solid.” She pauses to vape. “That was phase one. Phase two was when they deployed an orbital shield that blocked out the sun.”
“They stole that from me!” yells Mr. Burns, incensed.
“They’re cooling the Earth,” says Veronica. “We know hardly anything about her, but Adelaida – Ada, the technician you met – rules the surface, and they rule the depths. It took them a couple decades to knock down the resistance, but their control is more or less complete. That’s why they thawed you now. They need labor.”
“What are they building?” asks the Burger King. “Is it delicious? Are you single? I just went through a bunch of bad breakups and I need somebody right now.”
She shoots him a withering look. “I think that’s enough for now. All you need to know is that there’s a new resistance, and you’re part of it now. Why don’t you all go for a walk around, stretch your legs, and I’ll make us some dinner.”
You fan out, in groups of one or two, to explore the abandoned stores. Betty Grof explores a trinket shop and finds a forgotten box of semiprecious stones in the back. William Dyer, Antarctic explorer, tries on display-model sunglasses in a Sunglass Hut. The Demoman passes out on one of the conveniently placed benches.
Robo R66-Y is in the process of looking for batteries when someone sneaks up on it.
“Robotok halála!” hisses a metallic voice, and it is cut clean in two.
Robo R66-Y (MSD) has died. He was a PARTISAN (vanilla town).
In a store targeted at new parents, Nora hears a rustling as she scrounges through boxes. She pulls up V.A.T.S., but de-targets when she recognizes the visitor.
“Oh,” she says. “It’s you. Here, help me look for diapers. I know the crafting recipe to turn them into .38 ammo.”
She turns her back again, realizing too late that her Luck stat wasn’t quite good enough this time.
Nora, the Sole Survivor (Hayes) has died. She was a PARTISAN (vanilla town).
“Shoot,” says Zap Rowsdower, wiping his bloody multitool off on his jeans. “I should have asked her for that crafting recipe.” He burps, which covers up the sound of footsteps behind him. A fancy bronze knife comes out, and a second later, his body falls next to Nora’s.
Zap Rowsdower (Mr. I’m My Own Grandfather) has died. He was an IADOLANTHEAN (Vanilla Wolf).
The rest of you find the bodies after a hearty dinner of homemade Little Caesar’s pizza, which CAESARBOT 3000 helped Veronica craft out of decades-old canned goods and some local plants. It doesn’t taste very good, but it’s hot and ready.
“Ugh,” says Veronica, nudging Rowsdower’s body. The liquid seeping out of it looks like Wite Out. “Another one of them. They’re getting better at life on the surface.”
“Shapeshifters?” asks PTA Sharon. “In OUR community?”
“I’m afraid so. You’ll have to assume there are others among you.” She pinches her mouth shut. “I can’t tell you where we’re going, then. But I’m guessing MOST of you are good, because otherwise you’d just kill me.” She stress-vapes for a moment. “Fuck. Alright. Let’s bunk down and get underway in the morning. None of you better kill me, I mean it.”
The night passes without additional murder. You sleep on display beds in an IKEA store where everything is weirdly intact. Swedish practicality has never felt more gothic.
In your dreams, you see the catering truck appear in the IKEA. Princent Vice leans out the window and furnishes you all with a grin of unapologetic smugness.
“I see you’re all getting along quite well in here,” he says to you. “Making friends, killing them, making more. You’re quite the cosmopolitan bunch.”
He holds out a hand. From someone’s bedside, Pontostárgy flies up, and he stashes it away inside the truck. “I think that’s enough of that, for now. Friends, as you may have gathered, I’m a businessman. My business is helping people do what they want to, but can’t.” The grin widens. “I think business will be good.”
He points to Veronica, sleeping in a twin bed off to one side. “Keep an eye on that one. There’s more of her than it might seem.”
The truck fades away as he asks: “If you could do one thing you can’t already – that is, if you had a new SKILL, any skill at all – what would it be?”
(Today’s Event: Name a skill you wish you had but don’t, and describe what you’d use it for. Answers go in your QTs; don’t make them public.)
Breakfast in the morning is more homemade Little Caesars, and then Veronica leads you down to the other end of the mall. In an impressively vast foyer, in a spot once reserved for displaying cars, is a small propeller airplane.
“Help me push this outside.”
You shove the electric doors open and roll the airplane out into the parking lot. Veronica scans the dim sky for something with binoculars. Whatever it is, she doesn’t find it, and she orders you into the airplane. The engines are incredibly loud. It’s like 200 lawnmowers in here.
“I’VE BEEN MEANING TO GET THIS SERVICED,” she shouts over the roar, “BUT WE SHOULD BE OKAY. HOLD THE FUCK ON.”
You speed down the parking lot, bounce once, then again, and the third time you’re airborne. You look out the cloudy windows. Florida is dead and brown. You don’t even know what time of year this is.
The cities are dark, and the highways are empty. For the first time, you begin to wonder if you’ll ever get home.
Day 2 ends Monday, March 30, at 3 p.m. EST.
- April LKD – Face
- BannerThief – Harley Quinn
- Cop on the Edge-ish – L.Q. “Sonny” Clemonds
- DW – Arsene Lupin, gentleman thief
- E-Dog – The Demoman from Team Fortress 2
- Emmelemm – Kitty Witless
- Flubba Gunto – Caesarbot 3000
- Goat – Gort 5.0
- Grumproro – Betty Grof
- Hohopossum – Tiny Tim and Astral Howeird Possum
- InnDEEEEED – William Dyer, Antarctic explorer
- Jake (#2, replacing Annanomally) – Crocodile Dundee II
- Jon Hamm’s John Ham – Nolan Austin, dentist in Sherman Oaks
- Lamb Dance – Padparadscha
- Lord Stoneheart – Powerslave
- Mayelbridwen – Limited Edition Balloon Lady, leader of the Playmobil
- Mr. Glitch
- Owen1120 – The Burger King
- Ralph – Steve Harvey
- Robert Post’s Child – Captain Video
- Sic Humor – Montgomery Burns
- Side Character – Chris Kirkman
- Snugglewumps – Joanna Lannister XIII
- Spiny Creature – Crimes, clone of Grimes
- Spookyfriend – Sharon Lastname, PTA President
- Tiff Aching – Living embodiment of “Let It Be”
- Tyrone –
Chara8-bit Steve from Blue’s Clues
- Zecko – Dennis Reynolds
- The Hayes Code – Nora, from Sanctuary Hills / Partisan
- Jake (#1) – Mick “Crocodile” Dundee / Partisan
- Louie Blue – Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, von Münchhausen, known to many as the Baron von Münchhausen / Partisan
- Mr. I’m My Own Grandfather – Zap Rowsdower / IADOLANTHEAN
- MSD – Robo R66-Y / Partisan
- Sister Jude the Obscure – Mary Pickford / Partisan
- Wasp – Wasp / Carol / Big Jim / Count Dorkula / Zaxaforian Candulor (working together) / Partisan
- Tobias Morpheus
- Lovely Bones
- 15 Partisans (Town)
2419 Vanilla Partisans
- 1 Radio Operator (Investigator w/ 100% accuracy)
- 1 EviSync Operator (Investigator w/ 66.7% accuracy)
- 1 Medic
- 1 Haruspex (Town Vigilante)
- 7 Iadolanthean Spies (Wolves)
65 Iadolantheans (Vanilla Wolves)
- 1 Iadolanthean Hierophage (Wolf Roleblocker)
- 1 Freezer-Burn Victim (Serial Killer)
Vanilla town message: Welcome Manitoba Cryonics test subject! You will be a PARTISAN (vanilla town) once you’re thawed out in the future, but shh, spoilers. Your only regular power is your vote, although you may also be awarded prizes from the catering truck.
- Each day will feature a day-long Event, which is optional. A prompt will be given in each day’s header, and participating players are to respond in their QTs.
- Do not publicize your Event responses (until the game is over; then it’s okay).
- The winner will be chosen by NPC Princent Vice, the Catering Truck proprietor, which is to say, the mod. I will endeavor to be impartial.
- Do not discourage other players from participating in Events. I want everyone to participate if they want to.
- Win conditions:
- The wolves win when they are equal to the number of town-aligned players left (if the SK is dead), or outnumber the non-wolf players (even if the SK is still alive).
- Town wins when all the wolves and the serial killer are defeated.
- The serial killer wins when it comes down to just them and one other person.
- A three-way standoff between the last town, last wolf and SK will result in a special ending.
- Night actions:
- There isn’t a hard order that night actions occur in. This is to allow as many of them to go through as possible. Roleblocks will always take precedent over the actions of the targeted player, however. If the wolf roleblocker targets the medic, the medic will NOT be able to doctor their target.
- Operators (cops): All town forces and the SK come back HUMAN, all Iadolanthean forces come back NOT HUMAN. The Radio Operator will always get a true result; the EviSync Operator will get the truth two-thirds of the time.
- The medic cannot medic themselves or the same person two nights running.
- Day kill thread:
- You have the option to vote “No Kill” (or words to that effect). If that option prevails, no one dies at the end of the day.
- A majority vote for one player (or No Kill) will end the day early.
- A tied vote at twilight will result in no one dying.
- Catering Truck thread:
- The item with the most votes wins. If there is a tie, I will choose between the tied items for you.
- The selected item is awarded at twilight to the player who best completes that day’s Event to Princent Vice’s satisfaction. Event entries are made in QTs and must not be made public.
- Day kill thread:
- Instant death for the loser. Odds of winning 50%, as selected by RNG.
- There can be up to 2 duels per game day. The winner of the first duel can participate in the second.
- The first duel must be finished before the second takes place.
- You can’t duel yourself.
- You can’t duel Captain Video.
- Do not coerce third parties into dueling each other.
- There are no secret powers or win conditions in this game. Any changes I have to make to the mechanics will be announced publicly. Catering Truck items will always have their effects listed.
- If you maintain a game-related outside resource (like a spreadsheet or an in-character Tumblr), stop updating it after you’re dead.
- No editing posts.
- No quoting or screencapping from your QTs.
- If you have any other questions about rules, please ask in QT, and I will answer publicly here.