This week’s update is a little different. Instead of my usual vignettes inspired by the D&D games I play in, it’s a short piece based on some Promethean: the Created characters I would love to play at the tabletop. Whilst knowing the source material will help you understand everything herein, I think the following should be perfectly enjoyable without having played the game.
The railway bridge they hid under sheltered them from the worst of the rain. Between the heavy rainfall, and the sounds of the river rushing heavily barely thee feet away, Calypso was confident they’d be hidden to both the eyes and ears of their pursuers.
Feet crunched on the stones above them.
Jay, his eyes wide with fear, flinched and hunched over more. She reached out a reassuring hand and placed it carefully on his shoulder. She felt the muscles beneath his torn skin tense slightly and then loosen as he shot her a hesitant smile.
“They must be around here somewhere.” The voice was stern, commanding, and muffled, but it was clear enough. Rusty pulled the shotgun stock to his shoulder and shot her a questioning glance. She shook her head. “Spread out. I swear, Ember, if this is a wild goose chase, we’ll cut ties with you for good.”
“It isn’t, Murph. Promise.” Another male voice, this one oddly clear and undampened by the sounds of rainfall, came from the edge of the bridge above them. “They’re around here somewhere. Folk like me can’t get away easily.”
Calypso met Rusty’s eyes, reading a confusion in them that mirrored her own. They’d be able to sense the Azoth of any of the Created standing that close. More importantly, whomever was hunting them would be able to feel their presence almost directly below. Rusty had told her of his time following the path of Argentum and the things he had met so she knew they shared the world with other inhuman creatures, but she couldn’t remember him telling her about anything that would believe they were similar to the Created.
“You’d better hope that’s true.” The first voice again, moving closer with the sound of footsteps above them. “Or we might start looking at the freehold.”
Jay whimpered quietly, his eyes wide as the spirits only he could see began tormenting him, spurred by his fear.
“What was that?”
Mehmet placed his whole right hand over Jay’s mouth, raising the stump of his left index finger to his lips. Calypso slid the diver’s knife from her belt silently. She didn’t like to fight, but this was her throng, and the dictates of Aes compelled her to defend them as best she could. The Refinement of Bronze had given her a sense of purpose she had lost following Plumbum, an identity that she felt could be the person she wanted most to be, and she would rather succumb to the horrors of Torment, lost in her own inhumanity, than let her Throngmates be wounded.
“It came from under the bridge.” The second voice came again, an odd almost fire-like crackle layered beneath the words. “Perhaps you should send some men to look.”
“Hmmm.” The first voice grunted. “No man could have survived the river, but we aren’t exactly hunting humans, are we?” The sound of more footsteps carried to them and the throng moved silently backwards, pushing further into the shadows of the bridge, their feet making almost no sound on the concrete pontoon they had climbed onto. “O’Hare, Barnett.”
“Sir?” Two voices carried faintly to them from the other side of the bridge.
“Get over here and climb down.”
Calypso looked over her shoulder, met Rusty’s eyes and nodded. He raised the shotgun’s barrel and aimed for the lip of the bridge above them. Over his shoulder, she could see Jay shut his eyes hard, his jaw and fists clenching and unclenching.
“Calm down, Jay.” She whispered. “Not here.” The timid Ulgan had recently turned to the Refinement of Tin and his explosive fury would do more harm than good. Mehmet raised his left middle finger to his head, tapped his temple and then looked meaningfully at Jay. She understood his meaning, he was suggesting forcing a break in Jay’s psyche to calm him down by using the lessons of his own Refinement. She shook her head, indicating the top of the bridge, hoping he would understand the need to save his abilities as a last resort to help them escape.
The sound of two loud, metallic clanks came from above.
“Hold.” Murph’s voice came again. “If these things are like Ember, we’ll need all the firepower we can get. Attach the gantry, we’re all going down.” Her knuckles tightened on the hilt of her knife as a series of grunts and metallic noises came from above. Behind her, she could hear Jay’s breathing evening out.
“Mount.” The footsteps of six people, confident in the cornered nature of their prey, stepped onto something metallic and a quiet, grinding whirr carried to them on the rain damp air.
Calypso watched through her mismatched eyes as a metal platform lowered down into view. Five figures stood upon it, dressed in black combat fatigues, strange boxy weapons pointed at the throng. A sixth, a slight man with fire-red hair, dark skin and a cocksure smile, stood slightly apart, his fine suit soaked through and his skin steaming, as if it evaporated any rain that came into contact with it. As she watched, his suit visibly dried in patches now it was partially shielded by the bridge and the smile faltered as he looked at them.
“Uh. Murph.” He said. One of the figures turned its head to look at him. “They aren’t like me. I don’t know what they are. I thought-” The figure cut him off with a raised hand.
“If they aren’t what we’re hunting, they’re still fair game.” The hand lowered itself back to the barrel of the weapon.
“We aren’t game.” Calypso said quietly. All six figures tensed as she stepped forwards. “We’re just passing through.”
“We both know that’s complete bull.” The lead figure, Murph, said, his full-face mask moving slightly with his mouth. “You’re inhuman scum and it’s our job to scour your kind, whatever it is, from the face of the planet.” He paused and she could hear the pleasure in his voice when he spoke again. “After dissection, of course.”
She knew they were running out of time for a peaceful resolution. With so many people in one place, she wasn’t sure the effects of their brand would prevent the spread of Disquiet for long.
“We just want to be left alone.” She said. “We observe and learn, that’s all. We aren’t interested in conflict or bringing harm to humanity.”
“I don’t care. All monsters lie.” Murph said, jamming the trigger on his weapon down.
Two metal spikes flew from it and slammed into Calypso’s chest. A crackling pulse of energy followed them moments later, carried by two thin strands of wire connecting the spikes to the weapon. A fraction of a second later, she could taste the ozone in the air as the other armed figures opened fire with similar weapons at her throngmates.
“What the…” She heard one of them say as the electricity caused the Throng’s disfigurements to flare into visibility. She wrenched the spikes from her chest, her hands, one fair and delicate, the other tanned and blunt, making short work of the barbs as she crushed them.
Jay gave a loud, bestial roar and dashed past her, ectoplasm leaking from the rents in his skin as electricity crackled around his fists, leaping towards the armed figures.
“Run!” She shouted towards the man in the suit, lunging forwards and tackling Jay. “Get them out of here. We don’t want to fight. We just want a chance to live.”