Eternal Lies: The Masks of the Liar

Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 11)

The offices of LASAS were located on the site of an old Spanish hacienda. “There’s a nice deep wine cellar we can use for temporary storage,” Ruby explained, as she led Jimmy through the offices. “Sorry there’s no place to sit, the furniture is still on its way. So hard to get real teak tables nowadays.”

“Not if you pay enough, apparently,” said Jimmy, wincing at the thought of how much everything had cost. “What about permanent storage?”

“Found an excellent place out in Nevada, far away from here…or any earthquake faults. There’s absolutely nothing around for miles, just rocks, desert, and salt flats. We have an old silver mine that we can use to stash things in, near a place called Groom Lake.”

“Good. Nothing should ever happen out that way.”



Eventually Millicent was able to eventually lift Noor’s notebook off of Jimmy. Perhaps he didn’t make it very hard, having resigned himself to her curiousity. It was a small, completely ordinary hard-bound notebook of the type archaeologists used. It was also heavily splattered with a dried red-brown substance. Many of the pages were stuck together.

“Noor al-Buraki,” she read, “formerly a graduate student of Dr. Ali Kafour of the Cairo Museum; currently an investigator into the ancient mysteries. Notes to our researches, including a concordance of several tomes and excerpts from a translation-in-progress of the Al-Azif.”

The book contained lots of details on various entities, almost in the manner of a general researching the weaknesses and strengths of his opponents. Sometimes she found penciled notes in another hand, mocking Noor’s surmises or demanding more research. She also found snatches of various texts copied out in both the original (generally Arabic or archaic French) and English translations in a graceful hand on the facing page.

About the Liar she found some different opinions. Some described it as a minor nuisance, or at least as minor a nuisance as an extradimensional malevolent entity could be. Others said that it had come to Earth long ago, and had been screwing things up ever since.

The main markers of the Liar were the lack of a head—its avatars were nearly always headless—and mouths on the palms of hands. It was known to be able to possess people, especially people who went to deep into the research of the Liar. There was also a tradition that he was a god of the dead, or that “the dead belong to him.” It seemed to be able to take the form of people who had died under its influence. It was also rumored to be a sexually transmitted disease of some kind. Millicent also found a note with a date that made it one of the last entries in the notebook: “12 August 1925: Poss. av. Nyarl.”

A lot of the rituals to the Liar were similar to those of Gol-Goroth, making the Fisher a good cover for the Liar—both like orgiastic rituals. However, after the experience in the Yucatán, Millicent suspected they had different aims, because the Liar shared one important characteristic with Nyarlathotep: it was one of the gods that talked. For whatever reason, it comprehended humans in a way most of the other entities didn’t, or couldn’t.

Unanswered questions abounded: why did Echevarría summon the Liar? What does the contagion of Gol-Goroth mean? Why couldn’t the Messenger see Millicent.

“You three,” she thought. “That’s what he said. Not you four. And Trammel couldn’t see me that well…and he thinks the Liar is Nyarlathotep.”



Ruby went to Millicent one day. “I have to tell you something I remembered after we left Mexico City. When we were in that pit that Leticia threw us into…when you and I fainted the second time…well, afterwards, I got some Nectar in my mouth and you know what happened to me. But I remember: so did you. And you weren’t affected at all.”

“I did? I hadn’t realized…of course if you’re right, I guess I wouldn’t have.” Millicent sighed. “I think that sorority is looking for me. I don’t want to have delusions of grandeur, but I think they started the whole thing to look for me.”

“Jimmy!” called Ruby.

He reluctantly slunk into the conference room at LASAS headquarters Ruby was using for her “Millicent Intervention.”

“Jimmy,” repeated Ruby, “what don’t we know?”

“There’s somebody who has my face and is buried in a grave!” blurted Millicent.

“I don’t know all the details,” sighed Jimmy. “I only know part of the details.”

“I think they gave me some dead girl’s face, to be on the safe side,” said Millicent.

“It was mostly K’s plan.”

“Am I going to keep doing strange things?”

Jimmy paused, remembering a little girl who had walked through the side of a freighter in a flash of light. “You are extremely special and particularly gifted…at getting into trouble. And at understanding things. An innate understanding.”

“That’s bad, isn’t it?”

“Probably. There is one…person…you must never meet.”

“The one who couldn’t see me?”

“Yes. If he ever does, bad things will happen.”

“What kind of bad things?” said Ruby.

“World problems, let’s say.”

“Like boiling oceans? Apocalypse?”

“If I get my brain scrambled again, will that stop it?” asked Millicent.

“It might delay it.”

“Does this have to do with the thing in her neck?” asked Ruby.

“It’s part of the countering…I think. I only had a small part to play. We all did. We all did a small thing and nobody knew the whole plan, so that we could never betray it. And…it’s why Francis, my best friend, hasn’t talked to me in ten years. So it’s extremely bad that I know who you are now, and it’s extremely, extremely bad that you know…or any of us knows!”

“If your friend does that to all of us, isn’t there a chance you won’t remember…well, anything?” said Millicent.

“It might be worth it,” said Jimmy.

“How much does Vanessa know?” said Millicent.

“She was one of two people who knew your new name. But she didn’t know what was done, just who you were. Whatever else she figured out, I don’t know.”

They began to make plans to go to Bangkok.

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 10)

The night of the break-in, Jimmy and Millicent went to the roof of the building next door the Mason building, where his office was located. He used a flashlight to signal to Dr. Orange, one building over and armed with a scoped rifle, that they were in position.

Then he threw a grappling hook over to the Mason Building. Millicent tied the rope down on their side and they shimmied across to the narrow ledge that ran around the tenth floor of the Mason Building.

“This is filthy,” muttered Jimmy. A pigeon flew up in his face and he clung to the side of the building, startled. “I’m getting too old for this.”

Millicent lightly ran ahead of him. He marveled again at her smooth grace. Following her, they came to the window of his office. He peered into the gloom inside. The Feds hadn’t bothered to clean up their mess, but otherwise it looked empty.

A few minutes with his lockpick kit was all he needed to spring the window open. He pulled up the sash and then he and Millicent clambered inside, looking carefully around. He took a step forward, and broken glass crunched under his shoe.

“Nobody move,” said a voice from the darkness. It was a woman’s voice, with a rather tony English accent. “We have you covered.”

“Not moving,” said Jimmy.

A figure dressed in a black leotard with a balaclava pulled over her face stepped into the dim light of the window and tossed a pair of handcuffs at Jimmy. He could dimly see the other figure holding something that glinted very much like the blued steel of a pistol in the shadows.

Jimmy gave Millicent the nod he always had given Francis before he went into action and plowed forward at the woman who’d tossed him the handcuffs. He knocked her to the ground but she rolled over and popped up quite lithely. Millicent ran for the deeper shadows further into the room. There was a flash and the muffled report of a silenced handgun as the other woman fired her pistol.

Across the street, Dr. Orange had seen Jimmy throw up his hands earlier. “Why are they always waiting for us?” he muttered. When he saw the flash of the pistol, he didn’t think twice—he fired his rifle at where he expected the shooter to be.

Inside the office glass shattered as the high-velocity rifle bullet smashed through it and buried itself into the floor at the feet of the woman with the gun. Millicent jumped on top of her from the shadows but couldn’t knock her to the ground. She was cracked across the jaw by the barrel of the other woman’s gun.

Jimmy tried to grab his opponent but she nimbly jumped up onto the desk. She knows what she’s doing, he thought. But so do I.

The woman with the gun swept her leg in a quick kick and threw Millicent to the ground. She jabbed the gun into Millicent’s neck. “Mr. Wright, I really don’t want to have to hurt anyone. Perhaps we could start over, eh?”

Millicent got a far-away look in her eyes. “You really don’t want to use that gun. You really don’t want to use that gun,” she said in a level monotone.

[Intimidate spend by MP.]

“Mr. Wright, I really don’t want to shoot this little girl,” said the woman with the gun. “Let’s all move to the center of the room and I’ll put down my gun.”

“I don’t know you,” said Jimmy. “Put your gun down first and then we’ll talk.”

The woman backed away from Millicent, keeping the gun trained on her the whole time, and backed towards Jimmy. Finally she stopped in front of him, knelt down quickly, and dropped the gun at her feet.

Millicent turned on the lights, so that Dr. Orange would have a better shot if he needed to take one.

“I think we owe these people flowers,” said Millicent. “They’re always breaking into our hotel rooms.”

“I think they’re with Epsilon Sigma,” said Jimmy.

“Same difference.”

“We can neither confirm nor deny any of our activities,” said the Englishwoman.

“Did you like the book?” the woman on the desk whispered at Millicent. She nodded.

“We’re here to recover any items of interest,” said the Englishwoman.

“I’m here to recover items of interest. My items,” said Jimmy.

“We seem to be at a bit of an impasse.”

“We could call the Feds and report a break-in,” said Millicent.

“Who are you?” demanded Jimmy.

“I really don’t think that’s important,” said the Englishwoman.

“It is. Depending on who you are, I might just let you walk away with the stuff.”

“I’m not at liberty to give out my name.”

“You’re asking us to trust you with sensitive items and you won’t trust us with your name?” said Millicent.

“Er…no, we were just going to take them. Unfortunately we both chose the same night. To be honest, I really don’t care about your articles, but orders are orders.”

“You’re not with the sorority?” said Millicent.

“We take our orders from…higher up.”

Jimmy narrowed his eyes. The woman was a pro, he knew—superb tradecraft. But he had a man with a rifle across the street. “Do your superiors prefer you alive or dead? I’d prefer the former.”

“I agree. Why don’t we just walk out of the office.”

Jimmy nodded.

“All right, Mr. Wright. I’m sorry we couldn’t meet under better circumstances.” The two women in black backed out of the room, and then ran into the office.

Jimmy fiddled with a piece of wood at the baseboard, prying it up with his knife, and then using another key from his ring to activate the hydraulics that would raise his real safe back into position. While he was fiddling with the controls, Millicent saw something flash in a corner of the room. She walked over and fished out the necklace with the brass pendant from the broken glass and trash. Uncle Jack’s necklace, she thought. She put it on.

[Me: Bwu-ha-ha-ha. I mean, good. (Millicent saw it because of her In The Blood Drive.)]

Jimmy went through his inventory. One lightning gun, charges unknown. Several old books. That notebook Noor was always writing in. My “magic” armor. That box of various stuff…that’s everything except Jack’s necklace…

He turned around and saw that Millicent was wearing it. “How about we wait until a little later when we know what that thing does,” he said, reaching out a hand to lift it off her neck.

Millicent grabbed it and stepped back. “I’m not going to do anything with it,” she said petulantly. “I’m just wearing it.”

“Why don’t you keep it in your pocket?”

[Me: I’ll give you two points of Stability to keep wearing it…]

“It’s the only thing my, my father gave me!”

“I’m not asking you to get rid of it, I’m asking you to keep it and not use it. We understand each other, right? I…I know who you are. Who you really are. I know you read Jack’s letter…and you know that we hid you away, so that even I couldn’t know your new name. You saw all that when we had that…experience. I know you feel the connection to the world that isn’t our reality. I’m just asking that you keep it in your pocket until we understand what it does.”

“But I want to wear it.”

“Please.”

“Oh, all right.” Millicent took it off, but wrapped it around her arm like a bracelet when Jimmy turned away with a sigh of relief.

As they were getting ready to leave, the phone rang. Jimmy gulped and picked up the receiver.

“Tell Betty to take the alternate route. Trust me on this; you told me about it personally. We’ll probably talk soon…old friend.”

Jimmy hung up. On the way out, he gave Betty the high sign, and she threw her car into reverse and spun around in a bootlegger’s turn. Right as she did, another car came swooping out of a side street, barely missing her. Apparently the Englishwoman’s friends were planning to hijack her. Fortunately, with her head start she was easily able to evade them.

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 9)

“Jimmy,” said Ruby.

“Not James?”

“No. Jimmy, you’re my friend. We’ve been together on this trip. I’ve seen some of the things you deal with, and I want to help. There is something I am thinking of doing that we could work together on. It’s a little more clandestine than we’re used to, but I feel it would be a benefit not only to us, but to the rest of the world. I mean, this isn’t the only problem like this that’s going to happen, right? We’re dealing with this now, but who knows what strange creatures are out there manipulating the world in ways that are even more terrifying! Read this.”

While Jimmy looked over Ruby’s documents with incredulity, Millicent leaned over to Dr. Orange. “Professor, are we really all just…math?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t understand how a bunch of numbers can order a soda pop…even if the soda is just math too.”

“Everything can be expressed digitally,” said Dr. Orange. “Every single thing in the world.”

“But why did the stock market crash if everything’s numbers?”

“The Los Angeles Society for Archaeological Studies,” said Jimmy. “What the hell?”

“Rich people like to do things with their money. We can set this up to fund our own work. Create a tourist attraction for the things that are merely interesting, and everything that is really dangerous we’ll bury deep where it can’t be used to hurt people. Will you help me?”

“A non-profit would help some of my problems,” mused Jimmy. “But I’m a PI, not an archaeologist.”

“We’ll need an investigator, though,” said Ruby. “One who is well-traveled. I know the people who would be more than happy to donate. I’ll be the face, you’ll do the actual dark stuff. And we’ll launder stuff—you’ve got a good accountant for that. What we’re involved in is beyond the law.”

“I don’t care about breaking the law,” said Millicent. “But we need to be able to get away with it.”

“If we’re careful, we can do it. I mean, we know someone in the California university system…”

[So, this is how we built LASAS:

—I required a 2-point Credit Rating spend

—Then a five-point combined spend from Law, Bureaucracy, Streetwise, or Credit Rating. I told the players I would note down what they spent, as it would affect the nature of the foundation—if there were a lot of Streetwise, that would mean something.

As it was, it went Law, Bureaucracy, Streetwise, Law, Library Use, and Archaeology (we negotiated the actual spends) plus Ruby threw in some Architecture to allow for some secret rooms in their fort.

Ruby used Cryptography to acquire an Enigma machine, which were commercially available.

Ruby and Jimmy split the Credit Rating spends, leaving them as two principle shareholders.

I pointed out that they would probably need an academic of some kind to be the front for the group, but we decided to figure that out later.

During that conversation, we noted Jimmy and Ruby had been kicked out of all the best schools.

RP: I was kicked out of Hogwarts.
JP: Jimmy is such a Hufflepuff.
Me: Really? Not Griffendor? Oh, I know. The Sorting Hat was like “Griff—” and Jimmy shouted “No! Hufflepuff! Hufflepuff!”]



Jimmy made plans to break into his office and retrieve his secret items from the safe. He borrowed a car from Ruby and set Betty up with a company car. “When we leave, you drive the company car away from the building and try and draw off anybody watching us, while I get away in the sports car.”

“Good idea, Boss. By the way, do I still work for you?”

“Definitely.”

“Good. Next question: am I going to become a private eye, or are we doing something different now? Like, maybe I’m going to need to be a soldier of fortune, like Miss Ruby.”

“I have a fortune, and I shoot people,” said Ruby. “I guess that’s accurate.”

“We’re still a little fuzzy on that,” sighed Jimmy, trying to ignore Ruby. “Just no matter what, you’ll be taken care of.”

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 8)

After seventy two hours, they cut Jimmy loose, but his office was closed down. “Scene of a pending investigation,” was the excuse. The charges were nebulous, but involved rumors of drug trafficking, gang violence, involvement in some murders, and a possible international espionage angle.

Jimmy met with Buchwald to go over his finances.

“You have enough on the books to pay everyone for maybe six months,” said the accountant. “After that…who knows?”

Jimmy nodded. “Keep paying them until I figure out what to do next,” he said, and then had Betty drive him out to Pasadena, to have his reunion with Ruby, Dr. Orange…and Millicent.

Once again he rued the mystical effects of his meeting with the Gol-Goroth entity. Damnit, none of us were to know! he thought. Now we’re all in danger. Damnit, Millicent!



“Doctor,” said Jimmy. “Ruby, good to see you.”

“Nice to see you and Janet,” said Ruby. “What’s with everything I’m reading about you in the Mirror?”

Janet hid her face in her hands. “Oh, God,” she said.

“Janet used to work there,” muttered Jimmy.

“Wait,” said Ruby. “Now I remember! Weren’t you married to the editor?”

“Harold’s being a complete ass,” said Janet. “I’d call him, but I promised never to speak to him again.”

Er redet nur Scheisse über dich,” muttered Dr. Orange.

Ja, stimmt,” said Jimmy.

Sie haben keine Anklagengeschrift! Das macht mich verrückt,” said Ruby.

Das ist voll nervig,” agreed Millicent.

They all paused.

“What the hell just happened?” said Jimmy.

“Were we all speaking German?” said Ruby.

“I know German,” said Millicent. “I didn’t think you did!”

“I don’t!” said Jimmy.

“Here, read this,” said Dr. Orange, shoving a physics book at Jimmy.

“I…can’t. It’s in German…what gives?”

“Let me write something down. Do you know calculus?”

“No.”

“Now, concentrate really hard. I know the answer to this problem…how would I solve it?”

“Integration,” said Jimmy without missing a beat. “There, where the limit approaches zero…what the hell?”

“We must still be…linked, somehow,” said Ruby. “From what…happened to us. Maybe we can…borrow each other’s knowledge somehow.”

They all stirred uncomfortably, trying not to remember what had happened to them.

[So, here’s the other cherry from their journey beyond time and space: once per session, each PC may spend Stability one-for-one to gain points another PC has; like borrowing Jimmy’s Law or Dr. Orange’s Physics. This hasn’t been used that often yet, but it does come up in the next couple of sessions; plus it’s a neat way to cover for missing players.]

“On that subject,” said Millicent, “I met a friend of yours, Jimmy. Sort of.”

“Could you narrow that down?”

“He was two guys,” said Millicent miserably. “First one guy, then another guy.”

“Oh, all right.”

“I’m so glad that makes sense to you,” said Millicent.

“I’m going to need to go back to the office to get…some things I need,” said Jimmy.

“Could you use a hand?”

“All the hands I can get.”

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 7)

Millicent and Kakakatak/cabbie were standing near the aerodrome at the Mérida airfield.

“That guy will do,” muttered the cabdriver, pointing at a man in a pilot’s uniform. He walked up to the pilot and stared in his eyes for a long moment.

The pilot and the cabbie shuddered simultaneously, and then the pilot turned to Millicent. “Come, kid, let’s go.”

Millicent fainted.

“That happens all the time,” sighed the pilot. He administered a sleeper hold to the cabbie.



Millicent came to in the co-pilot’s seat of a twin-engine shot-hop air freighter. “I don’t know why humans need two pilots to run these things,” said Kakakatak/pilot by way of greeting. “They’re easy enough. Although I am getting a bit stiff..”

“I’ve been told I have a thing in my spine,” said Millicent slowly.

“Oh, that. Yeah, that’s true.”

“Is that a good thing?”

“It was sort of necessary. What I should be doing, kid, is pulling over to one of those states….I dunno, is Missoultuckey a state? and rearranging your brain. That’s dangerous too, although I could probably pull of the the whole memory block thing. That’s probably the safest course.”

“Is it? I’m just going to end back up with Mr. Wright and we’re fighting this…contaminant. Can I do that with my brain rearranged.”

“It’s not a really fine-toothed ability…it wasn’t too hard to cut out about two years before, but now I don’t know. I’m reasonably sure you’d remember your name. We encoded that pretty hard.”

“Maybe it’s not a good idea then.
“You might be right. Where should I take you?”

“Do you know where Vanessa is?”

“Nope. Not omniscient, sorry. Close though.”

“I guess Los Angeles is close enough.”

Kakakatak/pilot yawned. “My jaw keeps doing that,” he wondered. “Oh…right, that’s fatigue. I always forget you guys need to sleep.”

“You should probably land and rest a while.”

“I’ve got a better idea.”

The better idea, much to Millicent’s relief, was to land and put her on a train. “I should probably not see Jimmy,” said Kakakatak. “It’s really dangerous.”

“Should I tell him you say hello?”

“What did you say Ruby was wearing?”

“A pantsuit for the jungle.”

“I really don’t like that branch…but I’ll see if I can look him up.”



After about a week Jimmy and Janet, posing as a happy Canadian married couple, made it back to Los Angeles. Jimmy laid low at one of his safe houses.

One day he got a call on the emergency line he had set up for people from the office to keep in touch with him. “Mr. Wright, you better get down here right now.”

“I’m on my way.” He, Janet, and Betty piled into a car and drove to the office.

When he arrived on his floor, he saw the doors had been knocked down and men in suits were milling around the reception area. A better-dressed version of them approached him. “James Wright?”

“Unfortunately.”

“Summers, FBI. I got a warrant to search these premises.”

“Come on in,” said Jimmy, handing his hat to one of his secretaries. “But…oh, I see that you don’t have your third copy of this form.”

“I don’t need that to serve you.”

“I disagree. Thomas! Take a look at this,” said Jimmy to his brother-in-law/corporate counsel.

“Clearly irregular,” said Thomas in a thick French accent.

“Nuts to that,” said Summers.

“Quoi?”

[Law spend by JP to let Jimmy get to his office ahead of the FBI.]

While they argued, Jimmy quietly slipped away and made his way to his office. He locked the double doors behind him. He had only minutes to hide the things in his vault safe.

“Lightning gun. Magic armor. Those books…” he muttered, running over his mental inventory. Behind him there was the sound of some FBI agents demanding he open the door.

Jimmy pulled out one key from the bunch he kept clipped to his belt and a penknife. With the knife he pried off the plate of one of the light switches, revealing a button and a small keyhole.

The doors began to shudder from the blows of what he assumed were fire axes.

He jammed the key into the lock, turned it, then pressed the button. There was the whine of hydraulics as inside the wall, his vault was lowered down in a manner remarkably similar to a dumbwaiter. The cycle had just finished as the door behind him shattered, giving him just enough time to pull out the key and press the switchplate back into place.

Assuming it had worked, he had lowered into a place a dummy safe, containing interesting but non-mystical papers, behind his vault door.

The agents burst into the room, shoving Jimmy up against the wall. One took an ax to his souvenir cabinet, breaking through the reinforced doors and then tipping it onto the floor. The pictures inside fell out and shattered on the ground.

Summers fished out the picture of Jimmy and a large group of people on a rundown tramp freighter. “Who are these people? Where were you when it was taken?”

“Oh that?” said Jimmy. “I was on vacation.”

“You being smart with me?”

“Never.”

One agent picked up a necklace with a bit of brass metal dangling from it. “What’s this?” he said.

“Keepsake.”

The agent shrugged and dropped it to the floor. Jimmy surreptitiously kicked it into a corner.

“We want to talk to you,” said Summers, grabbing Jimmy by the collar. “Come on.”

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 6)

“Julius! Wake up!”

Dr. Orange opened his eyes and sat up groggily. “Max…” he muttered. “It’s good to see you.”

“You said you were going to Mexico…”

“I was in Mexico.”

“Did you fly back?”

“…I took a train.”

“However, I’m not sure how you got here. The guards don’t allow anyone without a white pass into this section.”

“Must have been on a coffee break?”

“Julius…it’s somewhat interesting that you showed up like this…but you understand that if I tell you anything I am putting my career, and potentially my freedom and my life on the line?”

“Or they’ll kill us, I’m used to that.”

“Ja, it’s like the old country. Come with me to the lab.”

They walked into a section of Caltech that Dr. Orange hadn’t even suspected existed. (“There’s no sub-basement 2!”) Dr. Born led him into a lab crammed with unusual machinery. Eerie green light shone from some sort of beam projector in the center of the room.

“Yesterday, we put a rabbit here. In theory we teleported it.”

“In theory? What theory?”

“…I’ll get to that. I just know that we ported it. It’s not disintegration until 72 hours have passed according to the experimental protocols. Since then, a number of…unusual events have occurred.”

“Such as?”

“I had a thirty second conversation with Leland Stanford. I thought that was a little weird.”

“Maybe I should catch you up on what I’ve been doing,” said Dr. Orange.

“Ja, and I can read you the requirements for Project Philadelphia.”

They talked for several hours. Dr. Born explained that back in 1926 the British Navy recovered a lot of odd equipment in the middle of the Indian Ocean, eventually sharing some of their discoveries with the Americans. These mostly related to teleportation, the opening of portals in spacetime, and other even weirder ideas—possibly including time travel. There is also some ballistics research going on; one of the finds was a piece of a rocket of some kind.

“I can’t get in on this right now,” said Dr. Orange.

“I understand. But I’m glad you know; it might be useful to have a man on the outside. I’m sure we can work out some kind of code. But of course…deportation, espionage, etc.”

“Let me tell you what I’ve been working on,” began Dr. Orange.

He talked for almost two hours almost without interruption. “…and that’s how I ended up in your office,” he concluded.

[Me: Julius, you understand I don’t have PC stability!]

“You…spoke to an extradimensional intelligence?”

“I spoke to someone who said, hey—Grand Unified Theory, just call this number.”

“Did he mention the name of the entity?”

“The Messenger or something like that.”

“We should research this…”

“Based on my experience, we shouldn’t.”

“But Julius! Think what we could know! We could have flying cars by 1950!”

“If we don’t do the research for this knowledge, then we don’t deserve it. We have to know how to not know it first. That’s science.”

“Damnit, you always paid more attention to Karl Popper than me!”

A rabbit suddenly fell at their feet.

“A rabbit!” said Dr. Orange. “It’s freeze-dried, I notice.”

“Ja…and it’s a different rabbit than the one we sent. But you know what that means…”

“A result!” they chorused together.



Ruby sat in her hotel room, writing furiously in a little journal. She was pushing to get every last bit of information about what had happened to her since January. She spent most of two days working on it, ending with a note saying goodbye to Murphy, along with the name of their daughter and where he could find her.

Charlie drove her to the train station. “It is not an easy thing,” he said, “to come back from the dreamtime.”

“No…it has not been easy.”

“Are you sure you are making the right decision with regards to Captain Murphy?”

“I feel that…we love one another, but we also hurt one another. And if I keep bringing him into the crazy life that I found for myself…it will only hurt him even more.”

“With all due respect, that is a strange sentiment to come from you, Miss Ruby.”

“I’m not the same person I was before…my experience.”

“One cannot be, when one has been through the dreamtime.”

He stopped the car in front of the station. “Wait a moment,” he said as Ruby made to get out of the car. He took a necklace off his neck—a simple cord with a piece of smooth basalt for a pendant. “Please take this. It belonged to a great matriarch of my people.”

“Thank you, Charlie,” said Ruby, taken aback.

[RP was doing a couple of things here: first, Ruby voluntarily gave up Murphy as her Solace; second, the necklace became Ruby’s new Symbol.]

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 5)

[Let’s take a second to talk about what just happened; we took a break here during the session.

First, this is a lot weirder and more apocalyptic than the encounter with Gol-Goroth in the actual text, which involves a time/space traveling pyramid observatory and an alien moon where you encounter a toadlike Gol-Goroth.

I wanted—as is my SOP—to make Gol-Goroth a little weirder and a lot more ambiguous. So while thinking a lot about this encounter, I eventually came up with the Fisher’s rather odd personality and equally odd delivery. I can’t really capture it orthographically; it was a sing-song, high-pitched voice with the emPHASis put on odd syllables and a lot of words runtogether. Also, GG spoke with a lot of non sequiturs and technobabble.

My reasoning is that it is a being that is outside linear time and so communication was extremely difficult. It was music that ended up providing the initial bridge to the PCs; the mathematical language of music, which is coupled with memory and emotion for most people, was understandable in some fashion to Gol-Goroth and that was how the PCs egos were reassembled. (OP noted that I was echoing Sartre with the self only understandable in opposition to others…maybe I should have called this campaign post-modern too.

That whole section evolved in my mind over a while, because I didn’t want the encounter to happen too quickly. I also embedded some clues in the locations they jumped too: the Yucatán before the K-T event was to demonstrate they’d moved in time but not space, the mountain pyramid is foreshadowing, and at least part of me thought maybe they’d try to find out who “the great Queen” was. Well, it will come back later, probably.

I don’t generally use music during my sessions, but I actually had a queue for this session, when the first realization of music came upon them in the void—the Introit for Faure’s Requiem in D Minor. I found a recording where the attack on the initial organ chord was nice and loud, and gave a real sense of suddenly breaking through darkness. It would have been nice to find an appropriate Bach piece, but I didn’t have time to trawl through the organ catalog (I’m more a fan of his keyboard pieces on piano in any case.) That said, it’s Bach that formed the bridge to their shattered egos, so probably they have Dr. Orange’s bourgeois German upbringing to thank. (Hey, I’m from a bourgeois German family; I can tell, because just about every member of my immediate family, including me, has a piano.)

There were some mechanical things that came out of the freely RPed scenes where they explored each other’s memories—I offered a point of Stability for a happy memory, or a point of Sanity for a sad memory, because paradoxically, sad memories did more to remind them of the human condition. Everyone took the bad memory option, and we put that in a pool they could use after we did the final tally on Stability loss. (I didn’t bother until the end of the sequence.)

It worked out to be a nine point Stability loss, which put everyone at Shaken and thus they lost a point of Sanity. However, I gave them back a point of Sanity for frequently blacking out and generally not really acknowledging how terrible it was—basically, the fainting option we did in Mexico City and yes I know that’s not how the rule works but it was working for us. So while everyone was Shaken by this Ur-Mythos Shock, with the point back for blacking out nobody was actually down any Sanity. Ruby clawed back three points out of the pool of Sanity (Jimmy took the other point) and as you’ll see she justified this with a number of changes to her character.

There’s another mechanical benefit but we’ll get to that in a bit.]

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 4)

They all felt an urge to think of home. They took a breath. “Home is…” they each said right before everything went dark…



“…Caltech,” said Dr. Orange.

“Julius?” said Dr. Born. “I thought you were out of the country?”

“Uhh….” said Dr. Orange, and passed out.



“So you see what I’m telling you Charlie,” said Captain Murphy, “what I’m saying is that I’m all hung up on her and I don’t know what to do. And if she were here now I don’t know what I’d say.”

“…with Murphy,” said Ruby, materializing on the deck of the Murphy’s Law.

Captain Murphy fell backwards, stumbled against the deckrail, and pitched over backwards into the Gulf of Mexico.

Charlie grabbed his belly and began to laugh, until he caught sight of Ruby. He straightened up. “Oh,” he said. “You must have come from the dreamtime. I’ll go fetch the Captain.”



“…with Janet,” said Jimmy.

“Jimmy?” Janet stood up from behind her hotel desk and dropped her pen. “Jimmy? You know you can’t be here! The Federales have a warrant out for your arrest! They confiscated the plane! I’m stuck here until I can get a charter.” She sat back down, nervously.

Jimmy just nodded.

“Jimmy…second question. How did you just appear out of thin air? What was that strange music I just heard?”

Jimmy knelt down in front of her and put his head on her lap. “Oh,” said Janet. “It’s all right…”



“…with Vanessa,” said Millicent.

She looked around. She wasn’t anywhere that she had expected to be. She was, she realized, in a plaza at the center of Mérida.

“What would Vanessa be doing here in the Yucatán?” she said to herself. A taxi cab suddenly pulled up next to her and the cabbie stepped out. He was a rather typical half-Mayan Yucatánero. In perfect English, he said, “Thank goodness, Millicent. You have to come with me. I’m a friend of Jimmy Wright’s.”

She stared at him.

“You do not understand how much danger you are in,” the cabbie pleaded. “You have to come with me. I’ll take you home.”

“Where’s home?”

“Okay…I’m still working on that. Do you know if Jimmy is in town…wait. I don’t know that either. Damnit. Why did I have to pull this duty?”

“Do you also talk about four and twentythree dimensions?”

“Oh no, you talked to that guy. No, kid, my name’s Kakakatak. Wait. Wait! I have a very important question! What color dress was Ruby wearing?”

“She…wasn’t wearing a dress, she was wearing khakis.”

“You sure she wasn’t wearing a red velvet evening gown? Absolutely sure?”

“She was wearing pants. Is that bad?”

“Yeah, that’s bad, that’s very bad. Okay, great. Don’t worry, not your fault kid. All right, we have to get out of here and the only question is if it’s easier to do in a cab or something else. Where do you want to go, kid? Back to L.A.? I guess a plane then. You think they have anything in a twin-engine turbofan…wait a minute, wait a minute…what year is this?”

“It’s 1937.”

“Ah, damnit. Fine, fine. I’ll take care of it.”

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 3)

“What you said before…am I a contaminant thing?” asked Millicent.

No…the contagion hasnot touched you. YOU are somethingelse. We are not to speak of…nor can we see clearly everything that hasbeendone in the warping of the spacetimemanifold…even through the twentythreedimensional hyperspacetime that we inhabit. It is verydifficult to do thaaaat….there is an emplasure…a metallicsheath…at the…T1 juncture of your notochord.

“That’s in your spine,” said Dr. Orange.

“You have a parasite,” said Ruby.

Parasite? No this was emplaced purposefully.

“You have an implant, then.”

“Maybe they had to do it when I was sick. When I was a child.”

Yess…things are blocked fromyou…NOR could we penetrate through the hyperdimensional manifold wrapped aroundyou…not easily. Nor is it possible in the point of spacetime that you believe you inhabit…perhaps in some furthertime in your lightcone you will discover it. InnnnnDEED. It seems to me that the coordinates you wish to return to are your homes.

“Yes…and no,” said Millicent.

InnnTEResting. Ternary logic structures very advanced for a human of such…capabilities. Ahhhhhh. Yesssss. The Messenger is speaking of you….

“We want to go home, yes,” said Ruby. “Back to the temple we came from.”

“I don’t want to go back to the Temple,” said Dr. Orange.

“You just don’t like the jungle.”

“I hate the jungle, let’s go someplace nicer. Can’t we go to the town? Let’s ask him.”

I donot have a biologicalexistence in a manner that you understand. I donot excrete nor do I engage in SEXual rePROduction. It is not particularly necessary to designate a gender for me. IT is inTEResting that you feel the need to doso. Even ruby doesthis. You are very strange creatures. I see now why the Messenger is intrigued in you. Ofcourse It wouldbe.

“We could call you they,” said Ruby.

They? Yes we have many more characteristics than a single intelligence and are so much vaster than your own. The plural designation isnot insulting.

“They, then.”

INteresting. Our followers never used such terms for us before. Ahhhhhh….you didnot bring a bloodsacrifice. Yes. Bloodsacrifices were done in the past as a way for us to analyze to sample which is ofcourse our function. We ARE the Fisher. It was never necessary merely desirable. We know more about YOU than you know about yourSELVES. Such is our function and not yours. IN fact we are not allowed to tell. And yet you hover on the edge oftruth and donot acknowledge it. Interesting…I donot think that was in thedesign and yet here you are. Innnteresting.

“What truth?” asked Dr. Orange.

Truth. The Truth. The true nature that is truly true. SUCH is what we are not allowed to divulge.

“Why aren’t you allowed to communicate it?” said Ruby.

Such isnot our function.

“There are lots of things that aren’t in our function but we do them,” said Dr. Orange.

InnDEED.

“We have choice,” said Ruby.

You do, yessss.

“Don’t you have choice?” said Dr. Orange.

Choice is a strangeway to understand us. We…we are. We are such that we fulfill ourfunction and have no other way tobe but to fulfill our function.

“Like how they say angels don’t have free will?” said Millicent.

Aaaannngellls…ah, no. Angels would be messengers. We are not they. They are different.

“And you’re not a planet because you don’t wander,” said Dr. Orange. “If you’re going to play games with etymology.”

IN some ways we DO wander. Many other societies exist or are projected to exist in this conglomeration you call Milllkyy Waayyy…

“So we know who the Liar is…and Nyarlathotep?”

Ahhhh….Nyarlat-Hotep was the ancient name designation…the Black Pharaoh the Black Man the Thousand Masks the Bloated Woman, yes…

“Not the same as the Liar?” said Millicent.

The same…the same and different interesting qualities projected on…the Messenger is neither distinct nor indistinct but the Messenger is separate. Yes. The Messenger is the Messenger and the Liar is the Liar. These are different things. They are of course the same…but such is the manifold.

“Maybe if the Messenger wasn’t there—” began Dr. Orange.

The Messenger is always there. Such is the function of the Messenger. No. Incorrect. The Messenger exists whenever the Messenger can exist. Yes. That is correct.

“When can the Messenger not exist?”

The Messenger cannot communicate with that which cannot talk to the Messenger.

“So…when talking to the the Messenger there must be a Messenger, and when one is not there cannot be?” said Millicent.

Yes. The iteration of the Messenger can only exist when the question may be asked. When the question may not be asked or CANnot be asked or willnot be asked, then the Messenger isnot. Ah. Yes. We have the clarification. When a species understands that the universe is more than what its sensoria can reveal, why, that’s when the Messenger is going to appear. You see…Gol-Goroth is not so great at talking to monkeys. But the Messenger is VERY good at talking to them.

“Because when you’re teaching slower children you need to be better at it than when teaching smarter children?” stammered Millicent.

So anyway, the three of you came here to talk to Gol-Goroth. Riiight. Hi, Jimmy, how have you been?

“I don’t want to talk to you,” said Jimmy in a strangled voice. “I’ve had enough of that already.”

But that’s what I do, Jimmy, I talk—I’m really good at it. And you should want to talk to me; you could have cut a whole loop out of this.

“Yeah, but it always comes with strings.”

Right, you want me to put crazy back on the line? Anyway, you got most of the dope. And you want to go home. We can send you home.

“How many of these things do you know?” said Ruby.

“One,” said Jimmy.

“And…”

Well, two NOW I guess.

“Who are you?” said Dr. Orange.

I’m the Messenger, doc! Haven’t you been paying attention? I’ll put GG back on the line. You wanna go home? Just click your Ruby slippers. Oh. Sorry, spoilers.

“What?” said Ruby.

Weeee apologize for allowing the Messenger to speak in our spacetime it was not easy for us as well. We…may potentially meetagain if the hyperdimensional spacetime trail achieves a high certain degree of probability. Yes.

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Episode VIII: No Maze To Unwind (Part 2)

And the music stopped, and they knew who they were once again.

They were standing on a stage, with the bright spotlights shining in their face. They seemed to be in some great opera house, with a silent audience massed in the shadows. Ahead of them they could see some kind of orchestra playing very quietly, and standing behind it, just a shadowy form in the glare of the lights, was the conductor. Words formed. There was no other way to say it. The words formed into something they could just understand.

InTEResting. Humanoids. Planet Earth. Whooooo…areyou?

“I’m Ruby Fitzgibbons.”

Carborundum. Carbon crystalinelatticed a gem.

“Also a name.”

Designation?

“Yes.”

Manifoldal changes in the lightcone brought youhere. Why….haveyoucome?

“We were in the temple?”

Structure. Pillared? Pyramidal conicalrepresentation of fourdimensional events…you bear the Contagion.

“Are you talking about what we call the Nectar?”

Emanation. A condition a poison a TRANSLATION the presence of the other the OUTsiderthecontagion the one who speaks in prevarications

“Lies,” said Jimmy.

Lieeesss. Yes. Who….areyou?

“I’m no one.”

Incorrect. You are absolutely clustered in fourDIMensional space or so you think. One who has seen. Seen? Seen. Presence. Wrapped in elemental hyperdimensional linkage. One who has spoken. Spoken? Yes, spoken to the…to the Messenger. Ah. Yes. Communication…possible? Ah. And linked and joined with the one the one yes the one with the imperfection the flaw the mixture.

“I don’t understand,” said Millicent, somehow knowing that she was being talked about.

In fourdimensionalmanifoldal terms your notochord has a foreignobject.

“I’m lost, and I still practice physics,” said Dr. Orange.

Physics? Physician? Physical….yes. And who…areyou?

“Julius.”

Julius…Julius? a time measurement a general? A calendar a scale?

“It is all those things.”

You are an egocollection that thinks it knows more that has suppressed suPREssed the contagion but only partially in twentythreedimensional spacetime

“What do you mean my notochord…” began Millicent.

Not terrene matter but phased imperfectly through extrusional into HYPERdimensionalextract quiteadvANCED…communication musical reverabations through oralsoundwavepressure communicate patterns such as matheMATicsssss….very long—long? simultaneous ofcourse but for you longago I think in your course through fourdimensionalspacetime but…then I spoke with…humans? humanoids? yesss, humans….

WHYhaveyou come here doctorjuliusorange rubyfitzgibbons jimmywright AND

“Millicent.”

…no. Incorrect. But I cannot understand nor tell you that…WHAT…doyou wantotknow?

“Who makes the…contagion?” said Ruby.
Ah….you speak of the contamination ofcourse it is quitesimple even Iweourselves are not completely FREEofit…no it was infact anotherhuman who brought the contagion. Known toyou I think but notby person.

“Echevarría?” said Millicent.

Echevarría…I donot know audible designations mean nothing to me. I feel I know I understand but the sonicvibrations you use to determine identity meaningless to me…

“Let me try,” said Ruby. She furiously tried to picture the photographs she had seen of Ramon Echevarría, mentally running through everything she knew about him…

Ah…yes it was earlier on his path through spacetime. But yes. WE are now eightyfivepercent contaminated but this is steadily holding.

“Where did the contamination come from before Echevarría…gave it to you?” asked Millicent.

Ah the another one somewhat SOMEwhat like meusourselves but not exactly notEXactly notquite no. Bound more into the spacetimecontinuum you inhabit the fourdimensionalspace that you have currently decided and agreed DEIGNed to call yourown your home. Bound, yes. Weusourselves I do not exist in the same sort of manifold that youconcurrently agree upon decide to call yourOWN. Yes. That is true. You understand time as athing that flows from onemoment to another like rocksfalling or waterdripping. We are the river.

“Are you…Yithian?” asked Jimmy.

Yithian? no we are ofcourse aware of the Greatrace and have had commerce with them in thepast…

“Who are you?” asked Ruby.

Soundwavepressure designation on Earth once I wascalled…ah. Yes. No. My properdesignation in your languageunderstanding would be…the Fisher. I am theFisher. Thefisherfromoutside.

“If you’re the Fisher…who is the contaminant?”

Ah theheadlessone the one who appears as a hominid with no head yet mouths that speak…glowing…pulsing…the sexuallytransmitted…the designation….Eeee….Eeee….Y’Golonac. You will know him by his marks but in thiscase being the Liar he has concealed them there are no mazes there are no headless ones…Y’golonac’s mark, you willknow headless is he on the manifoldal spacetime you call Earth Terra good ol’ Americanpie and baseball.

“And the contaminant is trying to spread its contagion to you?” said Millicent.

The contaminant spreads its contagion to allthings it is bound upon the fourdimensional understanding of spacetime that you stand in as well.

“You are beyond that?”

I am what I am made this way I function in such a proper existence. Holographically, ofcourse.

“How is it that it can do this to you?”

Do…this to me? Contaminate? Such is the contagions ability focus and purpose. A necessary artifact of the fixture of spacetime into an understandable manifold.

“Is there a cure?” said Ruby.

A cure? a CURE? How is the phrasing go in the place designated as Brooklyn…the cure is oft worse than the disease. But removed this perhaps canbe done but one mustlocate the place the NEXUS the…stomach of the mouths, yes. That would work.

“Where is it?” asked Dr. Orange.

That I donot know.

“There’s something you don’t know? Then why are we talking to you?” said Dr. Orange.

Your knowledge is incomplete should I mockYOU? You seek the formulaic understanding of the fourdimensional spacetime, yes? This can be found. The trialanderror methods that you seek to unite the threebasicforces and gravity under the quantum understanding that you have so recently CRUDEly arrived at will take many generations of your hominid DNA replication strandal… but there is one you could talk to known by jimmywright I think…would happily give to you the understanding…I see that you want this.
“No,” said Jimmy.

It is possible to extrude a quantumunderstanding into the lightcone inhabited by you in your trail through twentythreedimensional spacetime. That is to say that a calling of us/we those who exist in this continuum. In other words to put it in the terms of your vernacular of magic a summoning spell—you are very strange beings! I am glad humans have not been our study. The Messenger is more interested in you at least the iteration you speak of. Yes. This knowledge may be imparted.

“Let’s do it,” said Ruby.

“Wait!” said Jimmy. “Summon the Messenger? Are you nuts?”

No you misunderstand. Summoning the Messenger iseasy you must just think of Him longenough. Summoning us is difficult. We do not inhabit the same understanding of spacetime. In fact it would cause a glitch in the…in the…ah. Yes. We may not speak of this…it would cause a glitch. We may impart this knowledge thisforumula to you all or none. It is thesame to us. It will have had happened.

“So…you’ll tell us how to summon you, and you’ll…destroy the Liar?” asked Ruby.

Destroy fight purge the Liar from your terrene existence.

“Yes,” said Ruby.

“Absolutely,” said Millicent.

“I’ve got to go for it,” said Dr. Orange.

EXcelllent…and jimmywright? Or has the Messenger marked you too much to speak unto ussss?

“You don’t actually need a subconscious,” said Ruby.

“Damn my sense of duty,” said Jimmy. “Fine.”

Exxcelllent. We will reconfigure your endstate when we replace you into the stream.

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