Sunday, June 4, 2017

Misspent Youth: Preverts

Yesterday was Misspent Youth. Later today is Chill and then my son's birthday party and then I need to write and clean the house and OH GOD AAAAAAAA EGG

Ahem. Authority Figures.

  • Orbu, the for-profit transportation service that takes people around Bardo (the inmates don't generally get to use it because they don't have money). 
  • Tartarus, the prison that they put people found unsuitable for use as meat-suits. 
  • Hugin & Munin, two god-tech ravens sent here to watch folks for the off-planet gods.
  • Thoth, the god of education and wisdom, here to fill the inmates brains with what they need to know to be meat-suits.
  • Vesta, the goddess of purity, here to restore virginity to those inmates who have lost it. 
And then our friendship questions:
  • Kshanta asked Yasha: "Do you want to stop Billy because of your feelings for your friends or your feelings for Billy?" Yasha's response: "Those feelings aren't in conflict."
  • Jacqui asked Kshanti: "Who did you contact in the Resistance when it looked like we might be Chosen?" Her response: "Hanumen, the Monkey God, imprisoned in a rock on Bardo for the last few millennia."
  • Yasha asked Eli: What are you not telling us about the Mojo you supply?" Eli's response: "It's the bad stuff, the cast-off that the gods won't touch."
  • Eli asked Alaska: "What happened to make you so insecure?" Alaska's response: "Ask your dad."
  • Alaska asked Jacqui: "Why were you stealing my panties and scarves?" Jacqui's response: "For a textile art project about sex." 
As a side note, it's always interesting to me which of these things wind up driving most of the story. 

Scene One: What's Up

Eli's player reluctantly starts us off, and chooses Vesta, goddess of purity. We're in the Cone again, but this time it's a presentation on sex and the importance of "respecting yourself" (that is, keeping your body "unsullied" for its eventual divine usurper). Vesta is giving the lecture, but the YOs, predictably, aren't feeling it (Alaska especially). Jacqui reveals her art project - the scarves tumble down from the "roof" (on guide wires, since the Cone doesn't actually have a roof) and each ends with a pair of undies. A big banner says "DROP YOUR DRAWERS."

Vesta is, of course, displeases. She quickly susses out that there's no way someone could have done this without help from Billy, Master of Revels (whom, you'll recall, the YOs compromised last episode), and summons him up to her floating disc. She bursts into purifying fire and grabs his hand, searing him, trying to force him to talk. Alaska yells and tries to distract her while Kshanti causes a feedback loop, and then Eli's player rolls and loses. Not wanting to lose this, she sells out Bad to Perverse, loops the feedback stronger (remember Eli's Mojo-power is to control the Empathy), and Vesta winds up burning herself, looking incompetent in the process. The YOs win this scene.

Kickoff: This episode is about perversion. 

Scene Two: Fighting Back

I set us up and chose the question from Alaska to Jacqui about the missing panties (seemed a logical progression). The YOs are on the underground train back to the dorm. Alaska confronts Jacqui about her missing clothes, and while she's initially annoyed, she concedes the point that her underwear is fabulous and made the statement well. She further agrees to never wear underwear again as a matter of principle. 

The YOs notice that some of the other inmates are sniggering at them, mostly Alaska. And then the train breaks down and the lights go out, and they feel pinches and people grabbing at them. Alaska and Eli loudly confront the people doing this, while Yasha goes to the front of the train to get it started again. She finds no sign of the conductor, so she starts it up. Meanwhile, Alaska has faced off with some twerp named Chad and, becoming angry, turned into him. Eli, curious as to how deep this connection is, punches real-Chad in the face to see if Alaska feels it (she doesn't) and a brawl starts. 

The train eventually pulls into the station, and the brawl spills out on the platform. The security gods are there and tap a bell-like device that paralyzes everyone with hyper-loud sound, and then demand an explanation. Eli taps Wrathful and angrily calls out Chad and his buds, Yasha taps Trusted to back Eli up and call out the conductor (who immediately lies; he was in a back room with an inmate named Thaddeus when the train stopped), and Kshanti stands up and loses. She sells out Orphan to Helpless, and mutters, in the chaos, "there are security cameras on the train." Reviewing the footage, the conductor and Thaddeus are taken away. Alaska realizes, for the first time, how strict and unforgiving this system is. 

Beat: Discovery: Things are much stricter than they were. 
Question: How far is too far?

Scene Three: Heating Up

Jacqui's player sets us up, and chooses the question from Kshanti to Yasha about Billy and her feelings thereof. We're back at the dorm, and the YOs each have something waiting for them. Alaska has a red rose, Yasha has a bit of halva, but the others just have work orders. Kshanti starts doing her chores, but Yasha and Alaska start fighting. The crux of this seems to be that Alaska feels that she's entitled to fuck anyone she wants, but she wants Yasha to stay exclusive to her, which Yasha isn't having. The argument escalates, till Alaska grabs the entire portion of halva and eats it in one bite. 

Shortly after, her eyes start glowing and she floats off the ground. She finds herself able to change into another person entirely, not just superficially (and she does, changing into Theo and being horrified). She realizes that she is capable of using this energy to reach out into the stars, to hear the voices of the gods, to learn the truth...and she really doesn't want to. 

Eli taps Perverse to help keep her grounded, but then Jacqui stands up and loses. Alaska learns the truth. She sees what happens when someone is overtaken by a god. They are entirely annihilated, their soul and self gone and replaced by the invading god's persona. She is horrified - she never realized before exactly what the stakes were, here. "We have to stop this." (And of course, the others were responding, "yeah, that's what we've been saying".)

Scene Four: We Won

Yasha's player sets this one up and chooses Jacqui's question to Kshanti about the Monkey God. Following immediately on the previous scene, Yasha asks Kshanti if, as the resident expert on Bardo, she knows anyone outside the confines of the dorm who could help. Kshanti tells the clique about the Monkey God, but warns that his first love is himself (and chaos). They think that sounds workable, and take one of the Cerebus (remember they still have access) zipping through the tunnels to the Monkey God's domain. 

Here on the dark side of Bardo, they hear laughter from the shadows. Jacqui demands that Hanumen show himself, and he appears in a jump-scare as a zombified monkey creature. But then he brings more light and sits on the floor with the YOs, in a simple disguise as a normal man. Hanumen reveals that the stuff that Alaska ate was meant to be consumed slowly (it's a spread, after all), and eaten that way, it would make someone more susceptible for being overtaken. This makes Yasha a little uncomfortable. Hanumen agrees to send the YOs to the source of this Mojo, but asks Alaska for a kiss to trace it. While kissing, he turns into Theo, because it's funny to watch her react. (The Monkey God is something of a dick.)

But the YOs do win the struggle; Kshanti wins on Yasha's Liberation Theology Conviction. Hanumen sends them on...

Scene Five: We're Fucked

Alaska's player sets us up, and picks the question from Eli to Alaska ("ask your dad"). We wind up in the liminal space between the light and dark sides of Bardo, at a small white house near a waterfall. A man is sitting on the porch. Alaska greets him. "Hi, Bruce." Eli greets him. "Hi, Dad."

Bruce is surprised to see the YOs, but provides them dinner and talks with them about the Mojo. He says that the Mojo is brought in from off-world, and the only stuff he gets (and provides to Eli) is the stuff that isn't good enough for the gods. That implies that the Mojo could be tainted, and Jacqui, the sangromancer, gets a brilliant idea - menstrual blood would "taint" the Mojo, at least to the god's, as hung up as they are on purity. 

Bruce provides them information on when the next shipment is coming in. They sneak aboard the train taking it to the hub, where Veris, the spider-like god of bureaucracy, will divide it up. Before that, though, Eli knocks out the guards, and Jacqui wins on Eli's Perverse Conviction. The YOs bleed on/in the Mojo drams, which Veris then throws out. They save one dram, figuring that with the same amount of power that Alaska wielded, they could really kick some shit off. 

Alaska is hesitant. She knows too much already. 

Beat: Reversal (dram of mojo)

Scene Six: Who Wins 

Kshanti's player sets us up and chooses Thoth, the god of education and wisdom. The YOs are back that the dorm with their Mojo. They discuss, at first, consuming it one at a time, but then "fuck it" wins out and they divide it into fourths (Alaska, having been through this already, agrees to babysit). They go to class with Thoth as the Mojo starts to kick in.

Jacqui realizes that she has control over every platelet in the room. She could kill everyone here if she wanted to. And maybe...cause a small brain bleed, not enough to kill or harm, but enough to prevent use as a meat-suit? 

Yasha touches her stylus and it disintegrates. Her power to destroy god-teach makes her hand shake, and she's afraid to touch anything lest she destroy it...but what if her power let her reshape matter as well?

Eli feels everything...including the thoughts and feelings of the gods off-planet. Eli is connected to everyone on a level they've never considered, and tries to nudge their classmates towards rebellion. 

Kshanti, for her part, can feel the currents of Mojo everywhere, and focuses on Thoth. He knows everything. Can she access that vast knowledge? 

The YOs decide to take this public. Yasha starts shaking the room, bringing down the braziers. Jacqui stands up and yells "The time has come!" but Thoth silences her immediately. Eli stands up and loses. Chaos reigns and the revolution starts, but the YOs vanish. They reappear at Bruce's house, with Hanumen. Their powers are still unstable, and the god-like power from their Mojo consumption is fading. 

"I gave you the best source of chaos I could: Freedom. You're free! Go!" (maniacal laughter)

The YOs have lost the episode, and Eli feels the connection to Interstellar Empathy close off. If they YOs separate, if they go off-planet, they'll lose their connection to each other. The gods have sealed Bardo. 

Scene Seven: Dust Settles

Back to Eli's player, who chooses Orbu, the for-profit transportation service. The YOs decide to head in to the market (Bardo has a civilization beyond the prison, it's just that the YOs haven't really seen it). They call a driver and Bruce gives Eli some money (Eli is Rich, after all). On the way in, their driver realizes that these kids are inmates (probably something to do with that big kerfuffle at the dorm), and drops a dime on them. The consequences of that are something we'll deal with next time, perhaps, but the YOs are out of prison and ready to cause some real trouble.