This is the second adventure in the Flood series. It is half a year since the near-catastrophe with the old man on the raft community, and our heroes have been split up, working in different parts of the Hulks on security jobs. They were surprised then to receive a text message from Captain Dilver in the middle of the night:
[received 2:04 AM. Sender: Captain Dilver. Marked: Emergency] Go to the Flats immediately and bring in the woman called the Ocean Whisperer for questioning over distribution of fake medicines. Gather with your team at the Octopus Seller on the Flats’ leeward side, a short distance from the Whisperer. Be discreet and bring her without trouble. If anyone sees you tell them the reason but keep everyone calm. Bring her to me at Pier 17 and DO NOT keep me waiting. D.
They responded immediately of course, and were soon gathered together under the dim sodium light at the corner of the Octopus Seller’s shop. There were five, but they were not familiar with each other from previous adventures:
- Ryan the rider, whose sea lion mount saved the party repeatedly when they were on the rafts in their last adventure
- Crimson the old soldier, whose tenacious unwillingness to die stood between the party and complete extermination in their last adventure
- Dean, a middle-aged archer and scout with a penchant for heavy weapons
- Leviathan, the new captain of the submarine that the characters captured in the last adventure
- Thorne, an unhinged young martial artist with an invisible “friend” of very dubious morality
After brief introductions and confirmations, they headed to the Ocean Whisperer’s address. Here they found a flat, open raft, perhaps once a river barge, with the skeletal structure of what might be a simple pavilion over one end, and a small home made out of the cabin of an old boat at the other. Above the door of the cabin was a painted logo of an octopus, and three cats sat patiently outside the door. The sea this night was calm but active, with perhaps 2m waves out on the open sea; here within the border of the Hulks there was perhaps 10-20m of plastic, tires, old chains and wood beneath the water, and the sea was rendered sluggish by this debris, so that the barge only rocked a little with the swell; occasional splashes of water rolled over the edge of the barge, but it was the kind of still, grimly dark night that often rolls over the Hulks at the end of spring. This evening the sky was obscured in a thick veil of cloud, and the Hulks lay in complete darkness outside the occasional glow of solar-powered lamps, four of which illuminated the decks of the Ocean Whisperer’s barge, and their approach. The cats meowed, but scattered when Leviathan shattered the stillness with a loud hammering on the door and a yell of “Open up bitch, it’s the wind guardians!” Discreet, indeed … After a moment and a few more bangs the door opened, revealing an old woman, perhaps in her 60s, wearing a semi-transparent night gown and looking blearily out at them, long grey and brown hair tied back in an austere ponytail. “Yes?” she asked in trepidation when she saw their wind guard armour and uniforms. They soon had her out of the house, and dragged her off to Pier 17 without further trouble.
Pier 17 is located in one of the Hulks’ two inner docks, docks set within a broader sweep of the structure of the Hulks and intended to be partially protected from storms. Pier 17 is one of the least secluded, facing open water in the middle of the dock area. On this night the open sea was hidden in darkness, but the pier itself was lit with brilliant white light from two large portable spotlights, that shone onto a focused point in the middle of the pier. Behind this stood Captain Dilver, wearing a strange and old-fashioned uniform that looked about 20 years old and had only the single wave insignia of a corporal on its shoulder and chest. To one side on the far side of one lamp stood two ranks of five storm guards, also in completely outdated and strange uniforms; between them lay a coil of plastic cable, with plastic cuffs attached every metre or so. As the PCs approached this scene, Thorne and Dean both realized what it meant, though they understood for very different reasons: Dilver was recreating the scene from 20 years ago when he threw rebel children overboard, and laughed as their shackled parents tried to save them, and drowned. This was the atrocity that made Dilver famous, and gained him his power in the wave guards. The Ocean Whisperer obviously knew this scene very well, for as soon as she saw it she shrieked and tried to run away. Leviathan and Thorne grabbed her though, and dragged her forward to stand in the lights. With barely a nod of recognition to them, Dilver stepped forward and addressed her.
Dilver: A pleasure to see you again Agnes, do you remember me?
Agnes: Yes …
Dilver [gesturing behind him]: I think you remember what all this means. How could either of us forget? Just a little reminder of what I am willing to do for the safety of our little world.
Dilver: Now, Agnes, I have a simple question for you, a very easy one for you to answer. Try to be honest with me this time, yes? Tell me: can you really speak with the giant beasts of the deep? Do they really whisper to you in your dreams, or is it all a fraud?
Agnes [after a brief pause to think]: It’s all a lie, Dilver. They don’t speak to me, it’s just a story I tell to make ends meet.
Dilver [stepping back to give a slow golf clap]: Well, Agnes, I’m happy to hear that. Now I’m going to make you a very simple offer, that I know you won’t want to refuse. You go back to your cabin and sleep off this little interruption, then in the morning you convene a special meeting of your silly little church, and you tell them that it was all a fraud. You tell them that there is no way anyone can speak to the beasts of the deep, that they’re just dumb animals and we are just tiny, frail people clinging to life on the surface of a great dark ocean. You tell them your church is over, because there is nothing anyone can do to control the beasts of the deep and anyone who tells them otherwise is a liar. Then you go into your cabin and wait. In the afternoon some wind guards will be around to arrest you for dealing fake medicines, and you’ll never need to worry about seeing the disappointment on your congregations’ faces. [Pauses] If you don’t do this, I’ll murder you and lock you in your cabin with your cats, and I’ll make sure you aren’t discovered until your cats have eaten a good part of your corpse. Then I’ll drown them. Is that clear?
Agnes [eyes only widening a little bit]: Okay Dilver, okay. Please just don’t hurt anyone.
Dilver [snapping fingers at two of the guards, who drag Agnes away]: I will hurt everyone I need to, Agnes. Don’t ever forget that.
With that Agnes faded into the darkness, her pale face frozen in disgust as she was dragged away. Moments later Dilver gestured to the group peremptorily, leading them around a pile of crates to pier 18, where the slim and deadly shape of his favourite gunship the Gunfather loomed over them in the first shadows of dawn. They boarded and walked silently down gantries and corridors to the captain’s cabin, a bare room with a single bench a set of screens, and a narrow bed. Dilver himself poured them seaweed tea, and handing it around to them said
“I don’t believe any of that stuff. But you hear stories about what’s out their in the ocean, and it’s my job to rule out every possible threat, no matter how unlikely. Because we have an unlikely problem, gentlemen, and it is a once-in-a-lifetime threat that calls for all our efforts.” He stabbed his finger at a point on one of the screens and the darkened room lit up with the pale blue of an ocean map, a jagged red slash carved into it to show the path of some interloper approaching the Hulks.
“A miasma is coming, gentlemen. We have to stop it. But it is not drifting with the current. A fishing boat found it a few days ago and tracked it, sending us warning of its movements, but then the boat disappeared. We sent a drone, but that too disappeared. The problem is that the miasma is not moving with the currents. It has departed the stream of the current and is moving purposefully for us. It will be here in a week. We need to find out what is making it move, and destroy it. That is your job. You are to take the submarine, head to the miasma, and find out what is driving it. Then you are to destroy that thing, or bring it back if it is useful. The submarine has been configured to hold the rider’s beast – what’s its name, Ryan? – so you will be able to investigate with your own eyes under the miasma. This miasma is huge, so big that we cannot see into its centre, and I dare not risk something as valuable as a seaplane until I know more, so I am sending you instead. Questions?”
Leviathan said tentatively, “We should take the Ocean Whisperer with us sir. If she knows nothing it’s no trouble, but if she does know something we can use her. Like you say, it’s best to cover all bases.”
Dilver agreed to this. He also told them more about the mission: two days to get to the miasma in the submarine, the first to be accompanied by a battery ship to keep the sub charged. They would be given a special GPS beacon which, when activated, would act as a homing beacon for missiles and artillery, so that they could call down a huge storm of artillery on themselves. Ryan was to be given a set of scuba gear and a special watertight diving suit that would protect him for a short time from jellyfish stings. Arashi, Ryan’s sea lion, was already largely immune to stings due to his thick watertight fur, and could likely survive for a short time in even a thick cloud of the things. Because the submarine had no windows or external cameras and lacked manoeuvrability, Ryan and Arashi would be key to finding out what was driving the swarm.
They took their leave and headed to the submarine, which was waiting at pier 16, rocking gently in the swell. Arashi lay lazily on its bow, and let out a happy “whoof!” when he saw Ryan – the exact same “whoof!” that Crimson remembered with a shudder from the dark waters where Arashi slew the pirates who owned this very submarine. Agnes was brought to them, cuffed, and they set off for the swarm.
[Note: I have split this report into parts due to length. You can get a lot done in a few hours with Cyberpunk rules! The next part, Voltaire’s Temple, will be uploaded in a few days]
fn1: This time I had my full complement of normal players bar one, so three new PCs had to be made: Dean, Leviathan and Thorne.