Night of the Betrayer
|Title:||Night of the Betrayer|
|Continuity||SSEU Earth 1337-A|
|Synopsis||Background for a Werewolf Style RPG event.|
|Additional Notes||Ending to be determined in live event.|
By Doctor Xadium • November 30th, 2014
The Intern leaned back on one of the random sofas that were haphazardly placed around the lobby of the HOTEL, slowly gnawing on a hot, freshly-baked loaf of garlic bread. She believed the sofa was named "Unknown Sofa".
It was odd, she reflected, naming furniture. Well, she shouldn't say that. Time Lords loved to give names to things, the more pretentious, the better. There was even the Toilet Paper of Rassilon, for goodness sakes. The humans were nowhere near that level of pervasive nomenclature.
Still, so many sofas.
It had not even been a year since she'd come to this place-- which had, in its prior life, been a simple, if overflowing house filled wall-to-wall with guests and often unwelcome intruders. There were many sofas for the many people that that crowded space had had to accommodate.
Looking at one of the other chairs, Intern's keen gaze chanced upon some random, almost faded stains, and a bit of matted gum that had not been thoroughly cleaned from its surface. What stories, what history had happened here, she wondered. What events had occured-- small personal moments-- that weren't recorded in the sterile field reports she had received from The Co-Ordinator when she was posted here?
Sometimes. despite knowing the people here, she felt like a complete outsider in this place. It was, a lot of the time, terribly lonely for her in a way, despite having many of her countrymen in attendance from time to time.
The sound of clacking high heels against the marble lobby floor broke The Intern out of her introspection. Looking up from her now almost-totally devoured bread, she saw the imposing figure of Franziska von Karma before her.
The INTERPOL prosecutor was leaning to one side, supporting a gravely injured man who was more than a foot taller than she was.
"Intern!" Von Karma snapped. "I could use your help here! This man is injured!"
The Intern was already on her feet, having leapt over a sofa to one of the many medical stations located on the walls of the HOTEL. Due to the almost unremitting violence that tended to occur in the HOTEL walls, one of its inhabitants, Solarchos Langister, had taken it upon himself to make sure that first aid facilities were never more than an arm's length away. In this instance, she was glad of his foresight.
"Set him down on that sofa there!" Intern snapped, her normally gentle demeanour changing to one of firm authority as her training took hold. She indicated a dark green sofa which was the property of Sailor Quinox.
Franziska did as she was instructed, and gingerly placed the wounded man upon the sofa.
Working with frankly inhuman speed, The Intern bandaged up the man's wounds and ran a scan over him with a medical tricorder. She raised an eyebrow as the results came back.
"This man isn't human," Intern declared, turning the tricorder around so Franziska could see it.
"Hardly surprising," Franziska replied. "I found him in the Alien Zone as I was coming back from a trial. He staggered out of an alleyway. Judging by the wounds he was attacked with some kind of knife."
Intern concurred. Franziska's years of experience as a Prosecutor reviewing autopsy reports had served her well. "The Tricorder confirms that, several serrated blades were used-- luckily they failed to hit vital organs, since this person was in a shapeshifted form and the organs were displaced from the species norm."
Franziska regarded the now-sleeping individual on the couch. "What is he, then?"
"A 'Mim'," Intern replied. "In their native form they resemble something akin to a purple, tentacled sponge. They have the ability to perfectly mimic humans, or even Time Lords. Due to their mimicry ability, many races persecute them-- it's no surprise one would be found in the Akihabara Alien Zone."
"Th...there's more of us," the man spluttered, eyes fluttering as he slowly regained conciousness. "And... we need... your... help."
It took a few minutes, but Franziska and The Intern were able to get their visitor-- who identified himself as "Alta Lorix", to tell his story.
"My village was an isolated place, largely cut off from the rest of the world," Lorix explained, taking a long swig of coffee. "Superstition ruled almost every aspect of daily life. There was a belief that if the Old Gods were not placated, disaster would befall the land."
"How foolish," Franziska remarked. She had no patience for the mumbo-jumbo associated with much of the supernatural. Silently, Intern agreed with er, but also acknowledged the deep hold superstition could have on a people. It was not to be underestimated.
"That's easy to say from an outsider's perspective," Lorix replied, a taut smile on his lips. "But for the older generation, it was the inescapable truth. We, the young ones, did our best to worm ourselves away from the Old Traditions-- but change came slowly, and not without..."
He paused, voice cracking slightly.
"What happened?" The Intern enquired.
"About fifty years ago-- which is roughly a century or so to humans," Lorix began, "There was an astronomical conjunction known as a 'Blood Moon'. The older generation believed that unless Mim sacrifices were made to slake the thirst of the Blood God, that tragedy would befall our village."
"Barbaric," Franziska commented, unashamedly passing judgement. Intern winced, wishing the prosecutor would attempt to be a bit more reserved in her opinions.
"Oh, we of the younger generation agreed," Lorix replied. "It was determined that, for the first time in centuries, there would be no sacrifice. It was heralded as the beginning of a new age of enlightenment and science."
He said the last sentence bitterly.
"I take it from your tone this wasn't the case?" Franziska enquired.
"Heh," Lorix muttered, forcing himself to remember the what he'd seen a child. "It certainly wasn't. Someone was determined to keep the old traditions alive, no matter the cost." He paused to take a large swig of coffee, as if girding himself to face the memories he was about to unearth. Presently, he continued. "When I was I child. I saw it. The morning after the blood moon the villagers awoke to find five of their number dead in their beds, throats -- well the Mim equivalent of them, anyway--slit."
Intern gasped as Franziska just looked on in stony silence.
"There was no conclusive evidence as to who did it," Lorix continued. "There were a lot of suspects, obviously the older set, but some of the youngsters who were considered adherents of the Old Religion as well-- not everyone wore it on their sleeve in the 'new age' of Reason."
"What does this have to do with what happened to you in Akihabara?" Intern asked, chewing on a doughnut.
"After the sacrifice, many in my village fled to Earth, and formed a refugee community in the area you call the 'Alien Zone', Lorix explained. "We wanted nothing to do with a culture that so casually permitted murder in the name of faceless beings."
He let out a long sigh. "But even here, halfway across the cosmos, we cannot escape the mocking faces of the Old Gods, it seems." Touching one of his hnadaged arms, he sighed. "The time of the Blood Moon is coming again, and there are rumours that some of the murderers from long ago are in our midst, ready to kill again."
"Did someone attempt to sacrifice you?" Franziska pressed, starting to understand-- or so she thought.
"No," Lorix said bitterly. "They think I'm one of the potential murderers."
"But you were a child!" Intern protested.
"Yes, 'but you could be an older man taking the shape of a younger man to evade detection', seems to be the rationale," Lorix replied angrily, " though there's nothing rational about any of this!" He drank the rest of his coffee. "Our ability to perfectly mimic another person's form is a blessing an d a curse, even amonst our own people. The community is terrified of what might happen during the Blood Moon and it's tearing itself apart trying to murder the murderers before they can sacrifice anyone."
"That's foolishness!" Franziska explained, rising to her feet and cracking her whip in irritation. "They had no evidence as to the true identities of the murderers last time! How can they expect to determine who they are now?!"
"Exactly," Lorix agreed. "They can't. But rationality has left them in the face of this supposed existential crisis. Our community can't handle the strain." He looked to von Karma. "And that's why we need your help, Prosecutor von Karma."
"My help?" Franziska asked in surprise.
"It was no accident you found me," Lorix explained. "I was heading for the Alien Zone courts when I was attacked. Your reputation as a meticulous investigator is well known, Madame von Karma. and we need an outsider to delve into this mystery once and for all and bring the truth to light." He looked at her with genuine, desperate need.
"You expect me to find out who in your community was a murderer from the prior Blood Moon?" Franziska asked, somewhat incredulously, but also flattered and intrigued. This would be a severe test of her skills as an investigator. She had to admit, though, she had no idea of where to begin.
"Perhaps I can be of some assistance," Intern offered, intuiting Franziska's dilemma.
Franziska and Intern stood in the center of a vast room, surrounded only by four black walls inscribed with a yellow grid that covered them from floor to ceiling.
"This is a Holodeck System," Intern explained, gesturing broadly at the surroundings, "based on 24th Century Terran technology. It basically acts as a blank canvas we can use to recreate any scene or locale from any point in history that we have data on." She looked up into the air. "Computer!" she commanded, "Arch!"
A control Arch materialised, seemingly out of thin air.
"How does this all work?" Franziska asked, visibly impressed by the sight.
"A combination of force fields, holographic lighting and sophisticated Artificial Intelligence," Intern explained absently as she connected her data PADD to the Arch, uploading some information directly into the Holodeck computer.
Presently, with numerous instances of wooshing sounds, components of a scene took shape-- first a pinkish sky, then a rocky landscape, then huts, then generic bystanders.
Franziska did her best to not stare at the scene agape. It was so realistic, she could swear she even smelled the scent of an alien breeze wafting past her.
"So is this like Kay Faraday's 'Little Thief?" Franziska asked. "A device that presents a simulation we can walk around and examine?"
"Much more than that," Intern said proudly, chewing on a Granola bar. She spoke to the air once again. "Computer! Run program Intern One!"
Suddenly the static scene snapped into action, the control arch vanishing. The heat of twin alien suns beat down on Franziska, the murmur of a living village playing out in the background, generic bystanders suddenly animated and alive, conversing with each other and regarding Intern and Franziska with interest.
"Mein Gott," Fransizka muttered, "It's alive." Her time at the HOTEL should have prepared her for sights like this, she realized-- hell, the building was bigger on the inside than the outside-- but still. Wonders never ceased.
Intern adjusted the program so the Bystanders ignored the distinctly alien dress of herself and Franziska.
"I've uploaded all the data the Celestial Intervention Agency has on the Mim village at the time of the first Blood Sacrifice murders," Intern related, as she summoned the control arch again and started adjusting the running program. "Personality profiles, village data, the works."
"That's a lot of information," Franziska mused. "But if your people have that much data, surely they can just see who the killers are?"
"Yes," Intern replied, a bit uncomfortably. "But release of information at that level is forbidden because it might affect events in the current day Akihabara in a way that adversely affects the timeline." She hated saying that, because humans almost never understood the importance of maintaining the timeline, and usually saw her explanations as arbitrary handwaving.
"Ridiculous!" Franziska exclaimed, cracking her whip at Intern, proving her point. "You should just disclose the information if it will save lives!"
"I'm doing the best I can," Intern replied, genuinely frustrated. If only people could see the web of cause and effect as she could! If only they could understand why certain events could not be tampered with!
She sighed and held out a palm full of what looked like oversized microchips.
"What are these?" Franziska asked curiously.
"They're a variant of Dalek mind control chips," Intern explained. "Loaded with the recorded personality profiles of each of the villagers currently in Little Mimtown taht were present in the Village that night. Somewhere in here, the data of their status as a Murderer is located."
"Mind control chips?" Franziska mused, trying to understand what Intern was playing at.
"If we put these on behind the left ear," Intern began slowly, "Our own personalities will be temporarily modified to integrate the information at a subconscious level."
"Subconscious..." Franziska pondered. "Wait!" she exclaimed. "Modified?"
"Yes," Intern continued, knowing this part of the plan would meet with resistance. "I can't disclose the information directly, but with these chips on, and with enough of us playing the roles of the villagers in this simulation-- with safeties on, of course-- we can duplicate the night of the murders... and if we're clever enough, determine their true identities over the span of about a week's time (simulated, of course)."
"This seems overly complex," Franziska observed.
"Yes, well," Intern pressed on, a little irritated that her clever plan was being so handily dismissed. "It gives us a chance to examine the circumstances of that night on a deeply connected level, and if we're lucky, to ferret out the malefactors in time to confront the killers in Akihabara before the Mim community on Earth annihilates itself in internecine bloodletting."
"So to make sure I understand," Franziska continued. "We-- as ourselves, play these villagers, but in the back of our minds, some of us are the killers, and when the time comes we will strike, and it will be the job of the rest of us, to ferret out which ones are in fact guilty?"
"Yes," Intern confirmed. "If we succeed, we'll have suspects we can track down and trace, and save the Mims. If we fail, and thesimulated murderers defeat us... it will be a civil war in little Mimtown."
"But we won't be in real danger," Franziska asked pointedly.
"Think of it as a Dinner Theatre mystery with higher stakes," Intern replied. "If you 'die', you just leave the simulation, but the consquences for the Mims will be all too real if we can't flush out the killers."
Franziska nodded. It was a desperate gamble, unlike any other investigation she'd ever participated in before... but if it would save lives, she would give it a try.