This is a session recap for the Kult: Divinity Lost scenario And The Rockets Red Glare, written by Jacqueline Bryk. The art is by my excellent wife. Me and my three friends played this scenario in two sessions over voice chat. This post contains spoilers for the entirety of the scenario’s story.
A mostly unfurnished condo on one of the upper floors of Trump Tower is brought to life by a cacophony of cell phone alarms. It’s six in the morning, and while the November day outside the black-glass skyscraper promises warmth, the people waking up in the condo have no time to be excited about it. They’re interns, working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. They’ve been at it non-stop for months, long grueling days running errands or staring at a computer screen as the internet slows down yet again. Just three more days until the election. Once they get out of their cots and folding spare beds their entire day will be dedicated to Make America Great Again.
Kate Warren, a junior from Wharton University, wakes up quick and heads to the cafeteria for tea. She would normally get coffee, but hundreds of humiliating coffee runs for men who call her ‘coffee girl’ has ruined the drink for her. She greets Rey in the morning, the closest thing she has to a friend in all of Trump Tower. The rest of them can burn when Trump inevitably loses. She’s a registered democrat, but Kate actually thought at the start of all this that she could create some positive change by taking this internship. Seems foolish now. Of course, on the outside she must remain a stout devotee of the republican candidate. Even hinting at Trump’s eventual loss is a complete taboo in professional conversation.
Ian Alexander did not get much sleep. He was up well past midnight, doing the menial Excel sheet maintenance that everyone else ‘forgot’ to do. He’s a senior from Princeton University, studying computer science and as such has been relegated to ‘tech support IT guy’ for the campaign headquarters. New computers to hook up, lack of Wi-Fi signal, and the endless stream of information to be processed and entered into databases and analysis software. It’s miserable work and it never ends, but Ian could really use the recommendation. This is a big opportunity, so working his ass off is only reasonable, he tells himself. Gavin is ready to help, but what help is that? Ian knows that it will all end up on his shoulders anyway.
The person in the condo least willing to get his head from the pillow is Blake Stablecamp. Blake is rich, his family is rich and always has been, and he joined the campaign from Columbia University to see and be seen by the people that matter. He’d disappeared last night to go drinking, and the decision weighs on his head now. June, an intern roommate, heckles him to get ready to help him, so he spends a good twenty minutes putting on his tie. He has more interesting people to make a good impression on than her. He’ll be upstairs when he’s damn well ready.
Upstairs, or rather twelve floors up, is the ‘Situation Room’. On the penultimate floor, right below Mr. Trump’s penthouse apartment, it’s the central hub for all incoming and outgoing media relating to the Trump campaign. It is a mess of laptops, cables running through corridors and rooms like endless hordes of snakes, screeching printers, and paper. So much paper. The interns perform most of their duties here, always hounded by campaign staffers eager to dump more work on them, or ask for personal favors.
This day, like every day for the past week, Ian has been put in charge of Mr. Trump’s social media, including and most importantly his Twitter. America’s Most Honest Candidate was determined to benefit from some kind of filter, so Ian was given the opportunity to tweet in his place. He’s to encourage people to vote and push out campaign propaganda as inoffensively as possible without losing the signature flair of the presidential candidate. Something is different this morning, though. @realDonaldTrump receives a direct message, a rarity in itself. Mr. Trump only accepts DMs from accounts he follows, and those are few enough. The oddness doesn’t end there, though. The message is from an account marked as ‘invalid-user’, and clicking on the profile or trying to respond only produces an error stating that the account does not exist. The message is short: We know. Ian tries to respond, but is given the same error message every time.
At the other end of the situation room, staying visible and busy while doing little, Blake offers a favor to a senior staffer. He could get something of their choice on Mr. Trump’s Twitter. A retweet, a comment, anything they like. Everyone in here has their own pet cause and their own agenda, something Blake is eager to exploit any way he can. He sees Ian as a doormat, so getting something onto Trump’s twitter shouldn’t be difficult. With a winning smile, he greets Ian and offers a cigarette from his pocket. Blake has found this a good motivator for some, since pleasures are hard to come by while working the campaign. Ian declines, no time and he doesn’t smoke anyway. Blake casually suggests he retweets something from a republican think tank in Oklahoma, which he does without objection or interest. Ian tries to show Blake the strange message, which was sent again just an hour after the first one, but he doesn’t seem to get it. Surely it’s just some 4chan kid with a hacked account or something. Ian tries to explain that that’s not how it works, but Blake loses interest quickly and leaves Ian with a friendly pat on the back. Kellyanne Conway, the campaign manager, is no more help than Blake. She shrugs and says the strange recurring message is simply ‘something to deal with’, and tells Ian to do just that. Strange things happen every day, you can’t dwell on them.
Ian doesn’t get much work done for the rest of the day. Instead, he gets more and more determined to figure out how this message could even be sent. Hunting through Google results and StackExchange, creating and deleting a dozen Twitter accounts, and scouring through security issue logs. Nothing he finds can explain it. The only real distraction from his confusion comes a bit after lunch, when Michael Pence makes an unexpected visit to the Situation Room. As thanks for everyone’s hard work, the vice presidential candidate has brought donuts. Ian digs in and lets the jelly-filled sweetness take his mind off of things. Mr. Pence stays around for a bit, giving whatever workers have the time and will to listen to a boring speech. He goes on and on about the value of everyone’s hard work. It feels pointless to most, but appears well meaning. Except to Kate and Blake.
Kate spent some of her morning picking up loose papers and determining (with a healthy bit of antagonism towards the campaign) whether they should be delivered somewhere or conveniently shredded. She stops for a moment to listen to the drudgery that is Mike Pence’s speech. Blake has moved close to the man, appearing busy with a note block in hand to make sure Mr. Pence sees him hard at work while he listens. What they hear, though, is not the speech or even a language they recognize. What Pence says is vaguely recognizable as English, it all seems to be disconnected syllables with no meaning at all. He repeats this strange, stuttered droning for a long while, but as Blake and Kate look around they only lock eyes with each other. No one else has realized that Mr. Pence is speaking nonsense. The speech ends, and the campaign work resumes. Kate tries to move on with her day as if nothing happened, but Pence’s garbled speech sticks out in her mind and doesn’t leave.
Blake is shaken by what just happened. He tries to talk to Ian about it, but Ian shrugs and admits that he was more focused on the donuts. One ‘friendly’ clap on Ian’s back later, he instead tries to look for Kate. Blake knows how guarded she is, especially around men, but it’s not his first time finding ways to talk to a reluctant woman. He finds her alone in a corridor, and Kate’s death grip on the little can of mace in her purse lets up a bit when she realizes that her and Blake did hear the same thing, and they probably should talk about it. Were people afraid to say something? Surely they were not alone in hearing Mr. Pence’s disturbing chant, Blake says it felt like the guy was having a stroke in front of the whole crew and everyone applauded him for it. Kate agrees, but keeps to herself that she actually recognized the words Pence spoke. She can’t recall exactly from where or what they mean, and either way she’s still not comfortable speaking with Blake alone. Instead, she confides in Rey. Later, once the two are alone in the room they share with June, Kate tries to explain the situation to her. Rey doesn’t understand. She missed Mr. Pence’s speech, but can’t even imagine what Kate describes to her. She asks questions upon questions for Kate to clarify, what actually happened, what did he say? By the end of it, Kate only feels like she’s made herself look crazy. Rey looks at her differently, a bit distanced.
Late in the evening, and with his head still swimming with thoughts and theories about the anonymous messages he’d been sent, Ian heads to the shower in their condo. He’s not washed off for a few days, he’s not really had time and still doesn’t, but he knows that tomorrow is important and would rather be clean for it. We know. What could it mean? Who sent it? And more importantly, how? After a long, steaming hot shower, Ian takes a step out of the shower and halts in shock.
|The large mirror on the other side of the bathroom is fogged over from the steam, but he can still make out something terribly wrong in its muddled reflection. Several shapes, human in size and form but with no features Ian can distinguish, stand in the room’s reflection. Ian looks around the room and sees nothing. The shapes stand close to his reflection, still as statues. Cautiously he takes a step forward, and in the mirror’s reflection the shapes surrounding him move with him. They’re coming closer1. He blinks, and they’re gone.||
Keep It Together
Result: 10-14 Obsessed
Ian hurriedly dries himself off and heads to his bed, but sleep does not take him. His day just went from bad to worse, and his mind refuses to let go of it. Something is going on. He feels it deep inside of him, that it’s not just coincidences and dumb paranoia. It’s all too wrong.