In The Key of Time VI
A Future Imperfect
“This is what we saw earlier. We are in our future.”
Galadiir and Harrylock ran from the Margr and headed back towards the Time Rotor. They quickly found that the Guardian was still active and they were both injured by the murderous bolts of electricity.
“I badly need to rest”, gasped Galadiir as they reached the south control room.
Meanwhile, Judson and Sonny went back through the Philethis’ chamber ("Leave this place. They are not for you. Go, leave, now") and headed north to the second Portal. This was dark and broken; in the centre of the chamber were four Merkadian Soldiers, slashed in a thousand places and decapitated. They didn’t stick around to find out what had done this to them*. Retracing their steps, they set about finding the others.
Galadiir and Harrylock had rightly surmised that there was a fourth control room behind the gallery overlooking the Time Rotor. They were surprised to see a woman at the control panel, carrying a strange device and using it to examine the panel. She looked familiar and they realised that it was Varenis.
“Oh. You aren’t who I was expecting. Still, isn’t this fantastic? Two hundred years and it is still functioning. However, something is wrong; wrong in the past.”
At this point, Judson and Sonny entered the control room. There was a ripple and they were standing by the tomb containing the body of Varenis, at the instance Harrylock fell on to it; knocked by the Chronal Feeder. There was a brilliant flash and they were back in the control room with Varenis. However, of Judson there was no sign.
“Judson? Was he ever with us? I don’t remember him after the incident in the tomb room”
Varenis spoke impatiently. “The machine is being tampered with in the past. This device must be taken back to the past and installed in the control panel in this room. This will restore the machine to its full function.”
“Why can’t you take it yourself?”
“Because if I return to the past I will die. The Queen is to have me killed on completion of the machine. I have seen this future. But, if the machine is not fixed, then this future will become unstable” **
“How do we fix it?”
“This device”; Varenis held up the piece of numenera she was carrying, “has to be installed in this slot on the control panel in the past. It will reset the timeline; you can then use the machine to return to your own time.”
They all had a quick conference, but decided to follow what Varenis was suggesting. At this point there was a heavy explosion from somewhere and the walls and floor shook.
“The world is being invaded by the Grand Orbital Territory of Merkadia. Even now, their Continental Siege Machines are drawing ever closer. You don’t have much time.”
Varenis explained how to set the codes on the sliders in the control rooms; to go into the past they need to set 16011920***. The machine activates when the last code is set.
Harrylock went to set his code in the west control room and found the biomech Talia*5 there. They recognised each other from the hospital/prison. Talia*5 spoke.
“Varenis Ilobar is lying to you. The device will not restore the time stream – it will destroy it. This future that he has escaped to will be locked forever and the world will burn in Merkadian flame.”
“What do we do?”
“Use the machine to return to your own time and walk away, but make sure you take the device. Without it, Varenis cannot lock the time stream and he will die in 970 by order of the Queen, exactly as it should be.”
“How do you know all of this?”
“I created the device.”
Harrylock went and found Galadiir and brought him to talk to Talia*5. They were convinced and worked out a plan to set all the sliders whilst Harrylock kept Varenis distracted. The ploy succeeded; at the last minute Varenis realised what they had done but it was too late.
Up in the west control room the tomb was intact; the five rings were filled with the glowing energy field. However, the body floating in the field was not Varenis; it was Judson. Some experimentation found that the numenera device fitted a slot in the synth base; the filed collapsed and the rings rotated into the floor; Judson fell to the ground. They all realised that the machine was still active; not wishing a return to Varenis’ nightmare future they exited the complex via the Philethis (“You have travelled, but have always been here”), the (working) Portal in the Aeon Priest’s camp and out into the cave.
Heading to Shallamas through the strange conical hills, they decided to visit the woman whose son had aged dramatically. She didn’t recognise them.
Back in Shallamas, at the Pub of Ubbub, they were really surprised to find that they had only just left and the landlord was surprised to see them back so soon.
End of the Adventure
** Judson’s player (Ben) was now playing Varenis; having become them during the incident at the tomb.
*** It’s not rocket science; a simple numerical code based on the letters of the alphabet spelling PAST/NOW/IF
The crossover thing, with Ben playing the major villain, was interesting but had a few issues. I had prepared a briefing sheet for him; like how to play the character and what their goals were. Ben felt he needed more info on the characters background and motives
Overall, the PC’s gained a few xp and there was a bout of gaining new abilities