Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Final Flight of the de la Torre

GEOFF NOTE: This is the introductory text for the Invictus LARP, a rule book that I created for fun. It is meant to take place in the same world as the Mystwood LARP, but many thousands of years in the future, after Humanity has developed space travel and hyperdrive. It's a pastiche of Warhammer 40k and Traveller

This is the flight recording of the final moments of the Dreadnought de la Torre, whose heroic crew won an impossible victory for Humanity. Portions of this recording have been redacted or altered per New Terran Republic Governmental Protocol 1193-1A, for security and safety reasons.

COMANDER VAAL: We have a lock. The package has been picked up. Repeat—the package has been picked up!
CAPTAIN LUMIA: Excellent work. Energize stasis field.

Electrical discharge. Screams. The distant sound of tolling bells. Chanting in an unknown language.

VAAL: Captain, stasis field is collapsing! The Princes are breaking…
LUMIA: Divert all reactor power to the hold. Keep that field up!
BRIDGE CREW: Ma’am, the system’s overloading. It’s shorting out!
VAAL: They’re out! Marines! Ready weapons. Concentrate fire. Hold the line. HOLD THE LINE!

Sounds of battle, screaming, ritualistic chanting.


INCOMING TRANSMISSION: De la Torre! This is the Arcada! The entire Chaos Fleet has changed course. Heading for your position.
LUMIA: Roger that, Arcada! It’s because we’ve captured their Princes. They’re confined to our hold right now.
ARCADA: What the [REDACTED]! How in the…
LUMIA: We can’t contain them with our stasis field. My marines are trying to take them out.
ARCADA: Understood, de la Torre! We are scrambling to assist. Hold out as long as you can.
INCOMING TRANSMISSION #2: This is the Nedeni. We are en route as well.
VAAL: Captain, we’re giving them hell, but they’re still advancing. We’ve sealed the hold, but they’re…

Interruption by screaming, explosions. 

VAAL: Captain! We can’t stop them! They’re carving their way to the bridge.
ARCADA: De la Torre! Be advised, we are taking heavy fire! Six Annihilators closing fast. Shields collapsing. Wall shields holding, but…
HELM: Captain, I read the six Annihilators and…a dozen other ships. They’ll be on us any second.
LUMIA: Damn it. Helm. Set course for local system point, mark zero-zero-zero.
HELM: Ma’am? That’ll take us into the…
LUMIA: That’s an order lieutenant. Vaal, can you still hear me?
VAAL: I hear you, captain!
LUMIA: You have my condolences. You know I wouldn’t waste…
VAAL: (chuckle) Forget it. I never wanted to live forever.

More explosions. Static. Screams.


VAAL: All units, advance! Slow them down! Put your hearts into it! Come on you [REDACTED]!
NEDENI: We’ve sent a general distress, de la Torre. The fleet’s mobilizing and moving to your position.
HELM: Captain…coordinates accepted. We are coming about.
LUMIA: Thank you, Nedeni, but that won’t be necessary. Tell the fleet to pull back and get out of here.
NEDENI: De la Torre, I don’t understand. Say…Oh [REDACTED]. What are you doing?!
LUMIA: What we have to, Nedeni! Tell the fleet to keep those Annihilators off of us just a little longer.
NEDENI: (unintelligible)
HELM: Captain, hyperwarp engines are cycling up, but the automatic safety interlocks just engaged. We can’t…
LUMIA: Disengage safety interlocks. Input override code [REDACTED].


VAAL: Captain…are you there…We…lost…most of the company…our heavy primordials…I’m sorry…we…
HELM: Safety interlocks disengaged.
LUMIA: No apologies necessary, commander. You did well.
VAAL: Thank you…captain…
LUMIA: Helm, engage hyperwarp on my mark. Three…Two…
VAAL: You want some, you oozing, mutie [REDACTED]? Well, take THIS and THIS! AAAH!


LUMIA: Mark.

Sisyphus and Tantalus

It was Sisyphus who discovered how to break the system, completely by accident.

Out of sheer, defeated boredom, he started pushing the terrible boulder along different approaches to the summit. The end result was always the same, as was foreordained by the gods, but at least the view sometimes varied.

One such variation saw him pushing the boulder over the loose and yielding scree on the steepest side of the mountain. This earned him taunts and heckling from his minders, but Sisyphus didn't particularly care. He had done this millions of times already, and knew that he would not succeed.

But then, oh, when he at last reached the summit, and the boulder slipped away from his careful grasp, it rolled and bounced zig-zag down the side of the mountain, crashing and scattering smaller stones, until it landed with a splash in Tantalus' pool.

This gave Tantalus a brief reprieve in two ways. The sudden injection of the stone caused the pool's water level to rise abruptly, so that it splashed into the old sinner's parched throat. The action of the water also carried Tantalus up and up, as if he were a ship on an angry sea. There was only one wave, and it was not very high, but it was just tall enough for Tantalus to knock some of the tantalizing fruits off of the bough above his head.

Sisyphus stood at the summit, mouth agape. He was happy that Tantalus had been given a respite, however brief, from his suffering, but he was jealous that no similar reprieve would ever fall upon him.

And then he smiled, because he realized that it had.

Their minders pointed and laughed at Sisyphus, mocking him for his foolishness. Then, when they had at last calmed themselves, they hoisted the dripping stone from Tantalus' pond and moved it over to the sandy field where Sisyphus was foreordained to begin his every ascent.

While they laughed, while they primed his eternal torture so that it could resume, Sisyphus stood upon the summit in the cool sunshine, no longer laboring.