#TWADV #s02 – Twitter Adventures Season 2 Archive

This archive of Season 2 of Twitter Adventures (#twadv #s02) starts with the original tweets (for a very short while) to give you the idea of how it would have looked when “broadcast”, after which I will (for brevity) just post the odd tweet, with the rest of the text edited slightly to fix the 140 char limit that existed at the time. Where I can, polls will be preserved as tweets, so you can see results. What #twadv is/was will be discused in another page.

(tweets compressed now, for the most part, so the elipsis (…) and the “>more” elements have been removed)

…Across the table a lowlife thug, you’d thought. But he had skills. Skills or a huge dump of Luck. The only player left… His pot of chips dwarfs your own, not inconsiderable heap. All due to 8 hours of card play, and six watching impatiently. The dealer is waiting to throw you one last card. It all depends on what you do next. The man across from you smiles.

(This broke the tie, take that card being equivalent to “go all in”; it’s a good job a human is doing the parsing! However, not to discount a player’s vote, I decided to do both of the chosen options.)

>exam player then go all in
The lowlife is young (early 20s?), cocky, dressed to (try to?) impress. A tiny bead of sweat rolls down his temple, as he waits for your next move. He is trying not to catch the dealer’s eye. You slide forward all your chips (~ £250k?). An onlooker gasps like a ‘stepped on snake’. The dealer nods and deals. Lowlife pushes forward enough chips to meet yours. No buying the pot today. The dealer’s glass eye stopped him trying. Your card lies in front of you, shy of 17 eyes willing it to bare all. 17 eyes watch you draw it into your hand, then…

(forgive the typo, it should have been “breathes”)

>fold and shake head
You do your best to look crest-fallen, drop the winning (?) hand face down, muttering “I fold.” You hope all this was worth it. The onlookers spew a variety of exclamations, but Lowlife just sits, patiently staring. His eye bores into your mask, searching for meanings you cannot share. Not yet. Then time ticks again. He laughs. The dealer slides discards together and begins shuffling as Lowlife reaps the chips. “Game over, old man.” he smiles…

(No one voted in the original poll, but Lennart replied, which was good enough to break the duck. The idea of voting was (is?) still a new one, but without votes, the story would (and did, eventually) stall. Free votes might have encouraged more interaction at this stage, but that was all there was in Season one, along with parallel arcs, like an RPG, and it still stalled, so who knows?)

>say “It’s not coffee, is it?”
Lowlife snorts. “As in ‘Netflix and chill’ you mean? Nah, you’re not my type, Sailor… I’m talking something a little stronger. You’re lucky. Not many,” he gestured to the departing crowd, “get an invite”. Lowlife heads to a shadow draped rear door. Two thugs parting like a theatre curtain. “Down Fido. Down Rex!” he shouts.

(Ok then. Not many voting, but hey ho. Rome not built in a day 🙂 on we go!)

>say “we talking Malt?”

Lowlife grins. “”The best! Ten years old. Penderyn. Welsh.” He disappears through the doorway. You can hear his surprisingly light tread on the stairs, then above. Fido and Rex glance overhead, then back at you. You head past them, noticing bulges in their jackets that aren’t muscle. You are in Lowlife’s private apartment.

(again, I do both options)

>close the stairway door then invent

You close the door to the downstairs back room. Lowlife is busy pouring whisky.

>examine watch

The strap is faded, worn brown leather, and likely the original. Over 70 years old. The faded radium …dial glows weakly in the gloomy room. The fact that it still ticks is a testament to its makers. This particular one…

>exam lowlife

…Episode 2: “In God we trust. The rest of you I’m not so sure about”…

“Pay attention, Forty Two! This is the target… Male. Twenty Nine we think, based on the little we know. Eastern European by his accent. And… we think quite accomplished at Armed and Unarmed Combat. Lethal…”

You are in the SOps HQ briefing room. HOps is here.

>exam file

The file is sealed. Your thumb print deactivates whatever anti-tamper tech SOps has fitted into the cover. “Eyes only: Spencer, Tracey. Male. 29*. Organised crime, Middle tier. Believed affiliation to DieHards… * Unverified. Location of operations, London, Soho, Chip off the Block (Casino, Night Club)*… * UK-based, Internal protocol applies.

>read Page 1

You turn to the first page, headed by a picture of a young athletic man of Eastern European descent. The usual biographical data – parents, place of birth, etc – are conspicuously absent, with only a few recent years of …personal data present. You look up to catch HOps shrugging: “It’s as much as we can get at present. We’ve… had a few… shall we say ‘problems’ with other agents sent to investigate this particular subject.” HOps is looking uncomfortable. You continue to read what little there is. Speculation on origins, based on the few audio recordings of his accents. Interestingly, the report suggests that Tracey Spencer has no legal existence, the name being an alias or nickname due …to the subject having a dimple in his chin. Homage to the actor? There’s not much to go on in his personal data.

>read Page 2

And you thought there wasn’t much on Spencer…! “Diehards, affiliates This group of assassins work in most of Europe and Asia, but are not currently believed to be active in the Americas. They work exclusively for organised crime, having had no known connection with any Governmental security services. The number & veracity of the Diehards is unknown. No successful penetration has been logged. Some Governments have declared the Diehards ‘sub rosa’ status*

Diehard targets are principally identified by remoteness and severity of contract completion. Though rare, they show consistent pattern, with targets usually found in highly secure areas; it’s likely that they specialise in impossible locations, or where target is well protected. There is no known thwarted/unsuccessful assassination attempt on record The Diehards represent major competition to SOps action, to be disclosed to operatives only on a ‘need to know’ basis.

* sub rosa – defined as ‘off limits, with no attempt to process beyond initial ident indication. No records to be kept!

You close the file. HOps is looking uncomfortable. “I was only recently made aware of this myself, you understand. Very few active assets have even encountered our… er… our competition.” HOps picks up the file. Spencer’s image disappears from the wall. “Any questions?”

>say “What’s not in the file? It can’t be that easy.”

HOps flicks through the file absently. “We believe Spencer is much older than his apparent age. There is no explanation that TOps can provide and Internal Protocol prevents us from asking upstairs.” HOps is looking uneasily at the desk. “All we know is six assets have not returned home. I’ve been Head of Special Ops longer than you’ve been an asset. If the Techs are stumped it’s the first time ever…”

(NOTE: the hashtags used to mark this story changed at this point; there is discussion on Twitter about this, as a result of presenting at the Game Camp “unconference” in London about Twitter Adventures. It was suggested that separating the tags out would allow for easier searches, with less clutter. I think the proposed solution worked well: #twadv (short and sweet), #s02 (to allow access to different seasons), then finally #ep?? (to denote the current text and decision points), so that player/readers could find the latest tweets quickly, and review the back story, if coming in late, or to recap the story.)

>say “In for a penny”

…Episode 3: “Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread…”

You are in Lowlife’s private apartment. It’s sparse. A battered punchbag stands in the corner. Spencer (aka Lowlife), back turned to you, is mixing drinks…

>examine Spencer

Spencer is facing away from you, adding ice to two glasses before liberally pouring 20yr old Penderyn into a pair of cut glasses. His expensive suit appears hand tailored, but baggier than a bespoke fit should be. His lithe thin body feels unnaturally taut like a spring for a second, then relaxes as he turns to hand you a generous shot of whisky. He sips his own, smiling with his eyes because his lips are busy with his Malt…

>take glass You grab the tumbler, whisky sloshing up and down its sides. Spencer withdraws his hand, but not before you get a good view of his wrist. Definitely a straight gash across his forearm. He doesn’t seem to notice your scrutiny. “Sorry, no ice. We don’t have it where I’m from. You get used to it neat after a while.” He sips his Malt…

>say “Where exactly are you from?”

Spencer looks at you intently for a second, then mutters to himself. Some talk of the ‘Fallen’ and ‘still having no memories’ He looks at you once more and smiles. “We’ve much to discuss, Brother…

[You have 24 hours. What is your back story? Do you even have one? More than one? You WILL get an answer to your question in the next episode 🙂 ]

(This was the first free vote, as I was hoping to get more involvement from people who were just reading along; note that there were over a dozen people following the story, even though not all of them were voting. Sadly, no one replied. This was an experiment, and with a more engaged audience, it is likely that this would be different, possibly problematic, if there were too many responses.)

>say “…” (It is all I could come up with, having no response, but maybe no response was actually what the character would actually give!)

“You don’t know, do you Forty Two.” Spencer wipes his finger round the inside of his glass, then licks it. He looks up innocently. “Too good to waste.” He smiles sheepishly. “Now, you asked where I was from, didn’t you? ‘Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren…’ Revelations 22:9. We are but from different circles of Hell, my friend, and serve the same Master. You, the fallen, I the deathless.”…

(No one replied to the next poll, so (again) I took this as not responding. In an attempt to get people engaged, I went for a more ‘actiony’ poll.)

(Well, it got people voting at least, but another tie! I always reserved the right to the casting vote, so I chose throw glass, it having been an element in the fiction already, but then a player replied)

(Sometimes it is nice to remind the player that we are ‘sort of’ playing a text adventure 🙂 even if it was a little cheeky)

>throw glass

You fling the crystal tumbler straight at Spencer, the whisky arcing through the air to mark its flight. Time slows to a stop, and yet as the glass flies, Spencer blurs across the room, his own falling to the stained rug, its contents spilling upwards, and the clock catches up with you. Spencer is coming at you, hands raised in anger.

>grab punchbag

You move as rapidly as your training allows, body memory taking over to guide your movements, and get the punchbag between you and Spencer. It’s not what your head would’ve told you to do in response to his lightning attack, but something has guided you to this, and thought is merely along for the ride now. His grace is that swift. Too late to halt his momentum, Spencer smashes into the ancient leather tube, claw like hands ripping into its skin. …He shrieks as the hanging bag tears, and it spews orange brown earth, not the stuffing you would have expected, out of the gaping hole his fingers would have made in your chest if you hadn’t been quick enough to dodge his approach…

(Again, I chose to break the tie)

>swing punchbag

You swing the punchbag, which strikes the distracted man. This proves too much for the ancient cover, which gives way totally, ripping and disgorging the rest of the punchbag’s contents onto the ground like a broken hour glass. Spencer lets the little he has dribble through his fingers, quietly, incoherently muttering to himself.

He whispers “I am he that walks with the tender growing night, I call to the earth and sea half-held by the night… Press close bare-bosom’d night… magnetic nourishing night! Earth of departed sunset… Smile, for your lover comes…”

>attack Spencer

You snap a palm out with practised speed, lifting Spencer’s chin up in a sharp spine cracking jolt, which pulverised several vertebrae in a paralysing blow. His kneeling torso follows his head back and he crumples to the dust strewn floor, to be lightly dusted with soft earth still dripping from the swinging, ruptured punchbag. You wipe your orange stained hands on Spencer’s exposed sleeve before gauging the threat of visitors from below…

>exam punchbag

There is a broken punchbag here, orange brown soil spilling out like grain from a sack. The chain it swung from is a good deal stronger then you think it’s significant weight would need, and the ceiling bracket is…

>exam Spencer

He looks particularly good for a corpse, although his head is lying at an unnaturally ugly angle, but his is hardly the first body you’ve had to search in your time.

You find

A wallet

A silver hip flask

A pill bottle…

>exam bottle

Ignoring Spencer’s body, you turn attention to the bottle acquired from his jacket pocket. The label reads “PureBLOOD(tm): ‘Don’t be a pain in the neck’ Directions: Take 2 per day, directly or mixed with warm water”…

>examine pills Ignoring Spencer’s body again, you take a closer look at the pills. They are typical looking capsules, but reddish pink in colour and quite fragile, reminding you of water-soluble pain killers, and yet there’s a scent of sweetness, with the metallic tang of a nose bleed. The bottle is nearly full, but the label has no address on it…

>exam spencer

Something, maybe instinct, maybe divine inspiration, maybe just luck, makes you look down at Spencer, and just in time too. His glazed eyes snap into contact with yours, his broken neck back straight with a crack like an arthritic knuckle, then he throws himself up to the ceiling, suspended by absent minded gravity, waiting to pounce, watching with mirthful, hunter’s eyes. You think they’re laughing at your resurrected surprise at his rapid recovery. “Too late.” he spits. “Not the best idea to allow a Returned to rest in Mother Soil!”

Spencer is apparently fully healed, and looking for an opening to counter-attack. You no longer have the element of surprise.

[This is going to be combat. You have only 4 hours to respond to the next choice]

[Thought of doing a poll, but… How many of you use 3rd party Twitter browsers that still don’t show polls? I’ll add “poll” to future tweets… Use this only if you can’t see polls in your Twitter app]

(It turns out that some reader/players were using third party twitter clients, which were not showing polls as polls 🙁 which might have reduced the number responding)

>run to the window

You stoop low to avoid a lightningly fast slash that would have otherwise removed your head, and sprint for the ancient french windows, then jump, leg and arm up to brace yourself against the splintering impact as you crash through the latticework of small panes. The outside shutters nearly bar your exit, but give luckily, and the early dawn pushes impatiently past you, fighting clear of wood and glass, victim to rushed, remembered mass…

(^^^ this is an example of ‘belt and bracing it’ so that everyone could see the poll; I won’t include these again, but suffice to say, we used text and replies to capture choices, as well as the official polls from this point on)

>grab the ledge

With a lithe speed that surprises even you, your left hand sings back to grasp onto crumbled masonry, nails digging into peeling paint, then the brief slack moment is gone and you feel the AC joint in your shoulder rip the ligament securing your clavicle to the shoulder bone. A mind numbing wrench nearly caused you to pass out. You manage to get your right hand to the ledge, easing the strain on your left side. You’re pretty certain that a rib or two were broken when you impacted the wall

below the window. From within you can hear a “Hiichchchch” shriek…

[A tie so @DoctorMikeReddy votes for swing to balcony. Neither option would have been easy with that bad left shoulder!]

(However, I still wanted to honour the other choice, so see #e35 later, where the other option is strangely shown)

>swing to next balcony

You can hear shouts from below and a frustrated scuffle from inside, yet Spencer hasn’t come to the window, even though you were at his mercy. Veiled shouts and shrieks can be heard from the back of the room, but what gets your attention is the tell-tale cocking of an automatic, one storey below. Favouring your right arm, you brace yourself, breath rattling against the pain, and launch towards the neighbouring window across 1m of lane to the next building. It might not save you, but you’ve bought yourself a precious few seconds. Bullets whiz-crack past you, chipping your new perch. No time to hang around, you drag yourself up, safe from immediate fire but still…

>look at broken window

You are standing on a corner balcony of the building adjacent to Spencer’s nightclub. Looking from a lower vantage point – floors on your building must be smaller unless you’re on some mezzanine level – allows you to see a little way into the room you’ve just escaped; the Eastern Sun flooding it with a convenient warm glow. One of the bodyguards below seems to be sharing your intent, shouts something (Russian?) and runs back inside while the other fires at you. The balcony doesn’t look bullet proof. In fact, it seems to give a little under your weight…

>break into building

Crouching low to avoid the ground crew getting a clear shot, you try to force the tall window when it suddenly opens outwards, nearly knocking you off the balcony. A petite woman in her 30s stands in the way of safety, taking in the scene, the pockmarked brickwork, the sound of automatic fire from below, your urgent face…

>say “May I enter?”

The young women seems bemused, then the whip crack of a ricochet prompts her to nod and pull you …across the threshold. You sense an almost static charge as you pass into the room. It reminds you of…no…it’s gone. “It’s Debbie.” the woman answers your confused face with what she thought was your unasked question. “I’d suggest taking the laundry chute to the cellar and leaving by the service door at the side of the building. Your ‘friends’ will be coming up the stairs and the lift, if they are as persistent as last time.” She grins. “Don’t worry, go!”…

>look at room

The room swirls nauseously for a second…

Episode 3: Should I stay or should I go now…?

[Hold on tight!]

(NOTE: There is a deliberate time jump here, back to turn #e30 and then again to #e19, neither of which were explained at the time. The idea was to unsettle the player with flashbacks, and an alternate path. Whether it worked is debatable)

(We’ve been here before. We didn’t pick this option…)

…goons is leading a hunched, rug covered form (Spencer?) away from the streaming, morning light. He fires an Uzi at the opening. Wood splinters around you. You dive instinctively to the left, grabbing the rail of a corner balcony of the neighbouring building. More bullets pepper the brickwork. Before you can break open the French windows, they urprise until you ask yourself in…

You feel faint…

(Another “didn’t happen thing”)

…below is blocking your retreat. You snap through the other door at this level, which seems to be a small bed room, but there isn’t time to stop, as steps thunder up behind the door. You rush to the only other exit, a large window the only viable escape option is a small corner balcony below you, which beats the 30 foot drop to a narrow alley. As the door begins to buckle you leap across, landing with a bump. The guard appears firing from the bed room above…

(But we didn’t choose to read page 3 earlier, or did we, and we didn’t remember…?)

…town houses, though several were once hotels, but most now converted to residential flats for young professionals. From the street plan, the best vantage point for surveillance on the Chip is a 1st floor corner apartment owned by Deborah Bale (32), croupier, originally from Caernarfon in North Wales, “You’ll need a security services ID if you want to move cautiously and recce the place before you move in for the kill.” Her flat isn’t ideal, being slightly lower than Spencer’s private apartments above the nightclub, which will mean reduced visibility. However, it’s the only option available. It could also be a viable escape route. HOps smiles. “Ever the cautious one. You think of everything. I’ll get on to it.” …

You feel the nausea pass…

You are standing in the main room of a small corner flat. Debbie touches your shoulder. “Are you ok? We lost you for a while there. Look I seriously don’t think you should stay. Whoever those people are, they mean business. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard gun shots outside the club…

>exam laundry chute

The chute looks about as old as the building (an original feature?) and has an “Imperial Hotel” ut the hinges are almost rusted shut, and it has clearly not been in use recently. Debbie seems nervous (for you?) and says “It’s only a few feet drop.” She shrugs. “I went down there for a drunken bet once. I’m not saying it’ll be a soft landing, but you won’t break your neck. I’ll go first if you like.” You look down the chute. It’s hard to see if it is safe or not. If you had time, you could Google it 🙂 You can hear footsteps outside the door, faint for now, but Debbie is getting anxious…

(As the deadline drew near for this poll, I tried RTing with each person’s Twitter handle, as a reminder; the first time I tried that to recruit people into the poll.)

>say “Who the hell are you!”

Debbie gasps then glances nervously at the door. The sounds outside seem to be fading. “Do you REALY want to do this right now?” She stares at you for a second. “Ok, seems like you do!” Debbie inhales.

“I’m 28…ish. Stuck in a job where I’m mentally undressed by loser drunks who think tossing me their top chip, or their last, will win me like a lucky coin in a one armed bandit. I work nights, have no friends. I read a lot of spy novels, and have good enough ears to know they’ve come back!” Debbie is pointing sideways at the quiet doorway…

>go down chute

You lift open the cast iron cover and head feet first down the chute. At first, it seems too tight, then your hip clears the gap, and gravity does its work, the small cross-tube quickly joining a main vertical shaft and you have to brace your shoes against the side walls to slow your fall. After about 12 feet down you pass a trap door. Everything goes black as it swings shut above you, the light from the opening that had dodged passed Debbie’s peering head suddenly cut off by its ancient spring. The remaining fall ends abruptly, but you manage to roll aside. There is only the dim echo of a glimmer of light in this cellar, used for storage now, but clearly once a laundry…

>grab trap door

You reach up to the trap door, tiptoeing to get a grip against the rusty springed flap. As you pull it open the light from above is cut off for a second, then briefly reappears with a metallic rattling sound coming down towards you. Something round, painted matt green (you think, as it flashes past) bounces off the angled flap and rolls away into the semi-darkness at your feet. A small straight bit of metal (also green) follows on its heels…

(Again, I used the RT option to tag players, as this was a four hour poll. One replied, rather than voting)

(There were only two replies, including that RTed above, so I broke the tie with the shout option, as it was the less strategically obvious, as well as being more narratively amusing; we all know (or will soon find out) what the object in the laundry is)

>shout “Debbie!”

Holding the trap door you call to Debbie. Suddenly, her face is framed by the light spilling from behind her. “Get out! Gre…” Her cry is cut off by a black gloved hand and she is yanked back out of view. The cover is slammed shut. You hear the clump of bodies falling (diving?) prone on the floor above you. Time slows to a crawl…

(This was the most popular (and divided!) vote)

>take small metal object

You reach down and pick up the item glinting in the lifted light your hand found. It seems to consist of a split ring – the kind you weave your keys onto – a small metal pin of tight folded bright metal and a lever-like piece of pressed bent metal. Even if you hadn’t been through a range of combat training sessions, you would have recognised this from those action movies it was impossible to avoid. The ones where the Hero always wins. You realise that part of you always knew what was sharing the cellar with you. Sharing its fate with you. A grenade…

>go large basin

You dive for the large basin, hoping it might afford you some protection from the blast you know is coming. You’re barely in when metal shrapnels itself from floor to ceiling, one small piece tunnelling through your right heel. [It could have been far worse!]. The shards that aren’t now part of the roof above snow down around you. You can hear movement and shouts from Debbie’s flat. The wound in your foot appears slight. Probably time to leave…

(Another low vote tie; the RTs work to increase voting, but only temporarily, and should not be overused, without concent of the player. I go with searching)

>search for door

You recall Debbie mentioned a service door. It’s likely a clean up crew are headed for the cellar, even if they think you are spread over the walls and floor. You’re in luck. The blast peppered the walls with hot metal, a few puncturing wood, leaving shafts of sunlight like liquor pouring from a discovered bootlegger’s barrel. It looks like you’ve found your exit. A large painted over, thin panelled door, some panels the worse for wear now…

(Another tie. I choose action over caution, to keep the plot moving. This is meant to be an RPG, with time constraints and consequences, afer all. They only just survived the grenade attack!)

>Smash panel

You don’t think it wise to hang around, and the wood is already weakened, so it splinters quite easily, if a little noisily. The door itself seems to have been painted shut. It would never have opened easily by itself. In front of you, there is a small stone stair leading up to a back alley. Currently, there is no sound coming from above, but the same cannot be said for behind you. Footsteps are thudding down the cellar steps. It is a good job you didn’t go that way. You might just be able to squeeze through the current gap, but it will be a tight fit…

>enter hole

Thinking discretion is the better part of running away you attempt to squeeze your way out of the cellar…

>enter hole

(again)

You try once more to extract yourself from the hole in the old cellar door. Footsteps behind you add to your urgency, and finally you break free into the alley, falling onto the cellar steps outside, which lead up to the small alley you jumped across, what seems like days ago. Light streams through the much bigger hole now, just make out someone entering the cellar. It’s Debbie! However, she’s not alone judging by the weapon aimed at her head. She seems frightened. Her captor is obscured from view, but seems to be surveying the room. He quickly barks orders to someone behind him. It looks like he knows you’re still alive. “Come out, Forty Two! I have a friend here, who’s dying to be reacquainted.” He clearly isn’t exactly sure where you are right now. The mix of the dimness and…

>climb stairs

You ascend to street level, realising you’re now at the far corner of the building from Debbie’s flat and the entrance to Chip off the Block. To the East is the back lot for her building, showing former hotel features. Blocked entrance doors and ramps that would have received deliveries. To the North lies the alley back to the road. To the West is the rear of the casino. You think you can see two armed guards talking nervously, and on high alert…

>go east

You head round to the less illustrious back of the building who’s cellar just disgorged you to the street. There is a ramp up to what used to be large double doors, which are now what the evils of estate agency would call ‘splayed bay windows’. Clearly, a feature of what is now a ground floor apartment with a singular view onto a small courtyard area, surrounded on three sides by high brick walls. To the side of the stone ramp stands a fire escape, which presumably gives access to what would have been the servants back stairs. You imagine a sweepingly grand set mirrors it at the front. The fire escape door has been illegally wedged open, presumably to attract a draft as the day is humid even back here in the shade of neighbouring buildings. There doesn’t appear to be any sound coming out of the stairwell. You notice that your foot is bleeding. It’s possible that there may be a trail leading right here…

(Weirdly, the 34% is just rounding, but we go with it)

>remove wedge

[P.S. We are now halfway! Ep.99 will be the last!!!]

(that was the plan, anyway)

You walk round the now defunct ramp up to the bay window, the slight rise affording you some cover as you reach down to remove the offending wooden wedge, which was probably the most useful it has been for thirty years. As you crouch, splinters of rock and concrete spit at you like hot chip fat. You fall prone, avoiding the next volley, sure that the gunmen must have followed your old blood trail. You quickly pop your head up for a recce. Three men fire from the alley, from behind improvised cover. They don’t seem to realise you are unarmed. That won’t last long, when you don’t return covering fire. The only saving grace is the gunfire has attracted the police, judging by the far off sirens. Time to get moving. Hopefully, escape…

(a fourth wall breaking tweet, but it starts a couple of the players commenting, as well as voting, which adds fun and nuance to the polls)

>remove wedge

Under cover of the ramp up to the old rear exit of the hotel, you crawl up to the fire escape and pull out the wedge holding the sprung fire door open. It quickly swings shut sealing off your only visible exit. There’s not much more you can do than lie still, and hope your breathing doesn’t really sound as loud outside as it does in your head and chest. The gun fire stops, followed by an agonising second of silence that feels like a century, then someone shouts “He’s gone back into the building. Let’s go!” The crackle of a hissing radio punctuates this cry and you hear several heated footsteps receding rapidly. You can’t be sure you’re alone though. Did they all retreat…?

(I break the tie with the wait option)

>wait

An inner voice cautions you to stay put. You’re glad you listened as the static of a handheld spits distortion from the Ether. One of the guards didn’t leave, it seems. Eventually, he barks at his radio and walks up the alley…

>check fire door

You stand gingerly to test the fire escape, but there isn’t even a handle on its flush red exterior. Fortunately, you are as alone as Debbie was abandoned. The door is locked, designed to open easily from inside only…

>exam window

For now you are alone in the back yard, so you clamber (an injured foot is vetoing jumps) onto the ramp and peek at the bay window. A thick curtain cover most of it (the tenant clearly doesn’t enjoy the view), but there is a small gap at the bottom right corner that affords a view into a greyed out interior. From what you can see it is a living room – sofa, chair, TV, an open liquor cabinet filled with spirit bottles – but it’s too dark to see much. A problem remedied when two gunmen sweep through, checking rooms out of view before returning, and turning on a lamp. His partner barks at his radio “Ground floor CLEAR!” He looks up at the ceiling, sensing a continued search, then heads towards the curtain. He’s stopped, inches away, by his partner coughing suggestively. That was too close. Right now, with the lamp on it would be unlikely they could see you, but if you moved, the change in light coming from the renewed gap could alert them to your presence. Outside you can hear less distant sirens. Inside, the two men don’t appear to be going anywhere. A chance to eavesdrop? Examine more? There’s real risk in staying or moving…

>listen

Tall thin gunman settles into the sofa, placing his walkie talkie on the coffee table. “Pour me a big glass of that whisky.” “You mad?” smaller, plumper gunman replies. “You’re kidding, right?” He looks about expecting that someone he fears will jump out from the nearest doorway. “Now get up. We’ve the next floor to sweep. Our guest has gotten a little lost, and Spencer is going to kill someone. I don’t plan on being that person!” Tall and slim sighs, looks longingly at the expensive malt, stands up to join his rotund partner who is quickly departing the apartment…

(Jez will have to wait, but this does show how presenting interesting options can gently guide the player)

>exam window

So far, you’re still alone in the back yard, so you examine it more closely. A thick curtain hangs over the majority of the thick soundproof (bullet proof?) glass. The frame, while traditional, looks quite strong, constructed of wooden tongue and groove, quite well preserved, but the paint is beginning to flake. One of the panels is a full french door, fastened by a sturdy but simple latch. If you had something thin maybe you could hook or lever it open. You are at the rear of Debbie’s building, examining the bay window…

>use watch wire on door

You pull out a few inches of the garrotte wire and push a loop through a small crack in the french windows, then twist to hook the loop onto the door handle then slide it down. It starts to rotate, and with a click disengages from the latch. You’re in! Looking back quickly, you see no one observing your entry, then in a calm, measured way push through the heavy drapes and seal the exit behind you. You are standing in the living room of a comfortably furnished ground floor flat. There is a liquor cabinet here, a sofa and several chairs. You note the absence of any technology more complex than the lamps; oddly apparent in what looks like exquisitely decorated surroundings. You would have expected a TV or some of the trappings of 21stC living. Only the liquor cabinet shows any symbol of modern day existence. The rest of the room, though tasteful is at least a hundred years old. Antique…

>search flat To the right is a small hallway and the flat’s front door, which has been expertly forced open. To the left is a kitchen with the door to a toilet/shower room near the small dining area. There doesn’t appear to be any food or kitchen equipment here, which is a little odd. The bathroom looks clean in the way unused spaces are clean…

>exam liquor cabinet

A little dust gathers on top of all but one whisky glass. The cabinet itself contains several bottles, all Penderyn, a Welsh whisky that you’ve heard somewhere is possibly the best whisky in the whole World…

>drink whisky

You pour yourself a generous amount of spirit. Maybe it will alleviate the ache in your ankle a little. Maybe it’s the whisky, or fatigue or blood loss, but you feel a little nauseous. Feeling the need to sit down, you rather fall into the sofa. It’s a lot harder than your coccyx anticipates. The cushions are skin deep hiding a hard shape below the too thin covering. You wonder why this wasn’t obvious to the gunman you saw earlier, or your visual inspection. There is clearly something inside, which wasn’t apparent before. Do you have the time to investigate…?

>exam sofa

You take a closer look at the sofa. Firstly, it seems a lot heavier than it should be. The cushions are thinner than you’d expect, and appear to just be a cover for something else. Underneath you find a wooden box-like structure with a lid. Inside you find a familiar, reddish clay-like soil lining a volume that you could lie down in…

(I break the tie)

>lie down

(in box)

You get into the box and lay on the clay like soil. Something about it repels and attracts you. As you settle, the lid, and its attached cushion camouflage swings down on top of you! At first you begin to panic, but it may be a blessing, if such a thing can happen in a vampire’s coffin, because you hear the sounds of people entering the room. The voices are understandably muffled – you are in a sofa, after all! – but don’t sound familiar,

>invent, exam me

You are carrying:

A Lucky £1000 Poker Chip

A World War 2 Wrist Watch

A Wallet containing £2387.27

>Wait and listen

“…et her in he…”

<clump>

“Ok, Darlin…ere’s th… b…fcake go…?”

“We kno… h…ame thro…the BLOODY fire door…”

“…all clear here, Boss! Kitch…nd…edroom clean.”

“…ecure the…lat. Get ON WITH IT!”

<click, scrape, swish…>

“No NOT the…

>Wait and listen

“Deborah, Deborah<sigh> We know you helped this man. Possibly were in on it from the beginning too…” [The voices are clearer now]

“Listen you little shit, he was on my balcony being shot at by, your (?) thugs. What’s a girl to do under the circumstances?” Debbie’s voice sounds less confident than her words.

“They were.”

“Were what…?”

“They were mine. MY thugs, I mean.”

“Oh… ok…”

“And I’m not happy that this man has vanished. Not very happy at all! This is what I do when I’m unhappy. Dee, come here would you?” <clump, scrape, bump, bump, rip, gargle, loud clump…>

>push box lid

At first the lid does not move at all. Someone (Debbie?) must be sitting on the sofa. Then you hear a surprised squeak, followed by a sharp thump, as if she had kicked the cushion above you. Clearly, she is now aware it is no simple piece of furniture. What she does make of it, you cannot imagine. Maybe, if you both survive, you might ask her one day. Either way, her movements have not gone unnoticed.

“There is no point struggling, my dear…”

You can hear scuffling heels trying to gain purchase on the seat cushions. Is she trying to shuffle off the sofa or get away from her unseen captor? You guess she is tied at the wrists from the clumsiness of her supposed movements…

>Push box lid You push the lid of the coffin with enough force that it almost springs shut again. Debbie had clearly managed to shuffle clear. Could that have been the thud you heard? The scraping, her feet pushing her off the sofa? If so, how did she know or guess you were under the cushions? Something there isn’t adding up. However, there is no time to speculate now. The discarded body guard lies drained as alabaster, with just a few red spots on the carpet. You can hear Debbie behind the sofa, still struggling with her restraints. She can’t see you. Blocking her view is the crouched form of Spencer. Was it only thirty minutes ago you killed him? It seems like months! You can see soil dusting his suit with orange powder. Your own clothes should be the same, but the earth in the coffin has turned to a dark brown wherever it touched you. The discolouration is spreading, like an infection through the remaining soil. Spencer spins to regard your surprise appearance, taking in the contents of the coffin with a glance. “You dare to…”

(Always good to see a player entering into the spirit of things 🙂 and I wanted to reward/encourage such behaviour, as it is a nice way to vote with a comment, even after the deadline, as seen above)

>throw earth

(at Spencer)

As you scoop up some of the brown dirt from beneath you, time slows. Spencer unravels his choice to attack you rather than pursue Debbie in slow mo grace. He’s already leaping towards you when an unwinding of your arm flicks granules of soil into his vector of approach. There is little enough time to evade the response, and yet he nearly does, his reactions are that fast. The earth that does hit, seems to bore into his exposed flesh, but with barely a break of pace, he glides over you, in retreat now instead of pursuit, then bounces off the sofa and rebounds off the furniture, shrieking over you towards the exit. Again, time is like honey. You know if he gets to the door he will probably escape to one of his other rat holes. You were lucky his path had crossed yours again, thanks to Debbie. Deborah. Who always seemed to be in the wrong place at the right time. There were no coincidences…

(I break the tie with throwing earth)

>throw earth at Spencer

You quickly grab some of the discoloured soil, then fling it straight at the fleeing vampire. It sizzles, and he spasms away from it, but the momentum of his departure carries him out through the doorway into the interior of the building. You make to follow, but Debbie muffles through her gag, frustrating floor and sofa, with kicks from her bound legs. Spencer is gone. Maybe time to get some answers to unasked questions? You turn to untie her, starting with legs and hands before finally feeling her mouth to speak. You enjoy the order much more than she did. She knows it was deliberate. It was definitely worth it. “You kidding me? My Goddess I need something…

>drink whisky

You take a large swig of the reassuringly expensive Welsh Malt, easing the aches of the past few hours. Debbie joins you in a glass, her third, then looks you over. “You’re more of a mess than when last we met.” You are. You smile sheepishly. She’s got a point. However, now you have to accept the fact that Spencer will have disappeared into London. How to track him down to one of his bolt holes? You are in a ground floor flat Debbie is here

>open 24hr poll

[You have 24 hours to suggest your best option – some are more obvious than others – but let’s see how creative you can be!]

(Sadly, this is about the point when users dropped off. I tried to reboot the game/story with the open poll)

>exam earth

You set the whisky glass down and begin to inspect the coffin contents. Debbie remains sipping hers then clears her throat. “This must be hard to get in London. Can’t be many places that sell Welsh Whisky!” You remember drinking it at the club. Could it be that simple? To trace the sales? A job for HOps if ever there was one. However, your own digging seems to have bourn fruit as well. The sofa/coffin must have been made bespoke, and there is what…

>contact HOps about coffin mark

After a quick snap on the smartphone of the deceased grunt, and a chat with HOps on the nominally more secure flat’s landline, you gather that the mark belongs to a coach makers works “by royal appt”. Meanwhile, Debbie has been doing her own less informal investigations, judging by her web search and mobile calls to off-licence suppliers. You both finish about the same time, which is pretty impressive, given you have far more resources, commanded by a Higher Authority, than she could ever muster. Debbie is pretty impressive to be honest. She looks at you to say “What you got?” but you can tell she’s pleased with herself She holds up her phone grinning. It shows the web site of a specialist vintner. “They’re the only people who sell Penderyn in London!” she proclaims…

>tell Debbie about coachworks

You share the info HOps provided. Debbie seems genuinely impressed but then she frowns. “Well, it will be hard either way,” she gestures with the bottle towards the coffin filled sofa, “as neither place is likely to give you a customer list. Or… is that a problem for your people?” she swings the glass at the phone. She has a point, although you suspect HOps already has others working on the coachworks angle, leaving the vintners…

>drink whisky

You hold your glass out to Debbie and grin. She obliges generously, and smiles back. “Here’s to… er…”

You finish off “…partnership.” She smiles again. “So, we going alcohol shopping then?” You nod. “My people will…”

>Apply first aid THEN check in with HOps

You lay your phone down and begin improvising bandages. Debbie realises and sprints to the bathroom, returning with whatever looks handy to dress your wounds. She starts competently to apply damp strips to clean, and then cover, the various scrapes, including the worst injury on your leg. It hurts, but in a distant way. While she works, tutting like a career mother, you grab the mobile again and text HOps with the plan…

[We’re 3/4 of the way through now 🙂 Thanks for getting us this far!]

>explain about Debbie to HOps

You turn away from Debbie as you discuss the second lead with the Head of Operations, not wanting to catch her eye during the intense discussion going on above and beyond the Earthly telemetry she can hear. And yet you can tell she senses something other than the banalities her ear is party to. HOps is not happy to have a Mortal involved. However, you feel you owe her something. And not just for the earlier escape and first aid. So, when the two levels of communication cease, you smile at her reassuringly. “The Office is pissed, of course, so we’re going to have to stick together, then I can keep an eye on you.” She grins. “That went better than I thought” she said, looking genuinely relieved. “Should we get to the Vintners, or do you have to stock up on… poison darts?”…

>use underground

You take Debbie by the hand and make for the the exit. Could Spencer’s heavies still be around…?

“Oxford or Piccadilly?” Debbie asks. You frown. “It’ll be one circus or the other,” she explains. You look blankly. “Don’t ‘angels’ use the Tube normally?” She smirks. “Well, Mr Mysterious, Covent Garden means the Piccadilly Line…

>pull Debbie back

You grab Debbie back, for fear of gunmen that may be lurking outside. She seems to misinterpret the gesture as more intimate and you get the distinct impression she expects you to kiss her. The moment passes, but more slowly than is comfortable for either of you. “There may have been…”

“…shooters?” she continues. “Yes, sure. I’d forgotten them.” she sighs. “Thank you. However, there is no rain of bullets, so I think we’re safe.” Debbie…

>grab Debbie

You grab Debbie, pulling her back. This time she isn’t so compliant. “Look, they’re gone!” she hisses. It looks like she maybe right. As you follow Debbie into the street, no bullets shout across at you. No Spencer. …At quicker than a stroll, Debbie is heading South. By the time you catch up, she seems calmer, but you’re now in more populated streets, so there isn’t the scope to talk freely. The two of you walk in stuffy silence towards the…

(And that, sadly, is where it ended. Despite a couple of attempts to get more votes, or any response, the players could not be resurrected, past the odd one or two votes. At the time it was just not possible to justify more time to the project, for personal reasons, as much as anything. So, there we are, about to track down Spenser the (possibly) vampire, aided by the enigmatic mortal, Debbie, and all the resources a (possibly) angel can muster in 2017 London. Who knows if will ever be ended!)

Dr. Mike Reddy

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