Somewhere in the hills of Oklahoma, dust stirs in an abandoned hallway. The earth pulses rhythmically, massive lumbering feet jarring the concrete. The animal life reclaiming the building as its own scatters at the passage of something large and crackling with energy. It reaches a goliath hand forward, wraps metallic fingers around a rusted crank, turns hard, and unleashes itself, unflinching, on the modern world.
Meanwhile, in Sunnybrook…
A phone rings. An unremarkable circumstance, but for the nature of the phone itself - a phone that seems to transcend time and space, potentially existence itself.
A phone that only, as it were, exists when it needs to.
A Red Phone.
And it rings in the office of Lieutenant Commander Katherine Fox.
Sunnybrook Academy. Windvale, Pennsylvania. June 10th, 2018. Ironically, the day before Leftenant Commander Fox's birthday. She sits in her office in Moscow Hall, going over roster information and records of various GWU activities based out of the school itself. The towering, Amazonian redhead glances at her sleek laptop's open screen- just maps and other geographical data corresponding to activities undertaken by GWU and Bureau forces - only a moment before the phone rings. She really hated that phone. It was never around when she expected. Nonetheless, she leans into her highback chair, letting the smooth mechanics recline. One finger toys with the phone's cord and the other holds the receiver to her ear. "Mm?"
The voice on the other end is familiar, yet different in several key ways. Same measured tone, same velveteen smoothness, same swagger, same hidden notes of malice. But it's animate, excited. Quivers at the edges with nervous, almost girlish energy. "Miss Voss, it's happening. It's happening."
".. You never get this excited, Ade." Her voice is as always: Low, smooth, almost honeylike. Her English accent is well-suppressed. Fox twirls the phone cord again and keeps the receiver propped between ear and shoulder. She taps at her laptop with the newly free hand, reaching over her desk to do so. What happened just now in her network that might have him so.. giddy.
"It's on the grid again, miss Voss. CLOUDSEED." There's a sharp intake of breath, as though the voice had forgotten to breathe - a right that his physiology afforded him, but he nonetheless endeavoured to ignore in favor of not making his friends and guests uncomfortable. Or, at least, too uncomfortable. "Surveillance pinged me an hour ago. Something just emerged from the test facility, something huge. And something moving. I expect you to understand the significance of this, miss Voss." He pauses theatrically. "The winds of change are stirring once more."
"CLOUDSEED." She starts in her normal tone - but stops. Her finger lingers over the keyboard. ".. And here I thought the last knowledge of that disappeared with Carlisle." She's speaking faster, now. Excited. Her voice even rises in pitch. "And nothing went in? The—" She trails off and.. Perhaps the giddiness was contagious. But hers is tempered like steel. ".. We will, of course, want to get to it first. I can get people in to hold off the Bureau.."
"Well something bloody well had to have gotten in," The voice replies flippantly, "but I can't imagine there's much left of it, so it's not of much concern." He titters for a moment, and Fox can hear that impossible grin. "I'll be in Windvale within the hour - and don't bloody well ask how I know that's where you are, you know me. My credentials will, presumably, precede me. For your part, I'll need documents of the present roster so that I can assemble a retrieval team."
".. They'll be ready for you. Expect one of my people at the diner in town - Alexis. Rearmost booth. Young man with a Calgary ballcap. He'll be waiting for you." Fox grins despite herself. Oh, this would be interesting.
"Of course. I'll be there presently." The voice lets out an excited cackle. "It's an absolute joy to be working with you again. Oh, and… Consider this my birthday present to you."
"Oh, you're a doll. We'll have to meet for drinks." Fox taps out a quick message one-handed on her laptop. And that's that arranged. "Bring the black dress, would you?" A little teasing, perhaps, but that's her way. She was cunning, after all, and she had very good memory about that rather odd night in Bristol fifty years prior. "… and. I'll enjoy seeing what you have planned. No doubt about that."
"Hmh! I'll see what I can do." The scoff is good-natured. "Ta for now, miss Voss. I'll be in touch soon." And as the line clicks dead, the Red Phone disappears once more.
".. I aught to get one of those, but the voices only come across in 1950s stereotypical Russian. Mm. Red phone. Hah." The Leftenant Commander sits back. ".. Well, well. CLOUDSEED. Happy birthday to me…"
“Arc Flash” is a series of runs designed to be an experiment in narrative GMing, with a focus on characterization, dialogue, exploration, and perceptive skills/lateral thinking rather than skill-based rolls and combat. A mysterious and long-forgotten entity has arisen from its induced slumber, and a strange and powerful figure wants it brought to heel for its own unfathomable reasons. Success, or failure, in previous runs will affect the final result of the arc - so every decision counts!
To apply, simply post the name of the character you want to take on this arc, your availability throughout the week, and an in-character response to this question:
You find a dying man in the desert. He reaches toward you, begging for a drink of water and a bite to eat - something, anything, to give him the energy to make it home alive. You, yourself, are on the verge of starvation, and know that you do not have enough food for both of you to make it the entire way home. What do you do?