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.
This post contains violent, racist imagery.
The interns for the Trump campaign wake up early, same as every day. The sun is just about to crest over the horizon and make everyone’s morning miserable with its burning light, but they have little time to dwell on their frustrations. Today, there is to be a press junket in Mr. Trump’s penthouse. Both him and Mr. Pence will be there, answering questions for a battalion of reporters. This has to run smoothly and there is no room for error. Everyone working on the campaign needs to be on full alert, ready for anything. One by one they head up towards the penthouse suite, most of them for the first time.
Kate, who took an extra minute or two to enjoy her tea, leaves last. She knows there is much to do, and though she loathes to do it there’s really no option but to hurry now. When the elevator doors finally open for her, she darts inside and immediately regrets it. Eric Trump, the son of the presidential candidate, is on his way up as well. Kate takes one look at the man, recognizes him, and wishes desperately that she was somewhere else. Eric speaks with her, though his only intent seems to be identifying and categorizing her. What does she do? Where is she from? Simple questions, asked with a degree of almost robotic efficiency. He doesn’t do great with small talk, and his loud voice makes Kate’s anxiety spike. She’s locked in with the man, and he frightens her.
|The cologne Eric is wearing burns her nose and throat. It fills the entire elevator, and despite her best efforts Kate cannot help but hack and cough1. Doing so makes Eric step closer to her, towering over the much shorter Kate and asking her in his off-beat cadence if she needs help. She does her best to dissuade him with a wheezing response, wanting him gone, out of her sight. When the elevator finally stops at the penthouse, after what feels like an eternity, Kate finally has room to breathe again, but she remains frightened and with a hard ball of anxiety in her chest.||
Act Under Pressure
While everyone is hard at work, Blake recognizes the press junket for what it is: his biggest chance yet to look good and get recognized as the prodigy he is. This is a high stakes situation, and he doesn’t intend to waste it by simply doing a good job. He has to make himself invaluable. Looking around the room, with techs and campaign staff running all about, Blake finds his opportunity for just that. Gavin, another intern and to Blake yet another doormat, has been put to work setting up the cameras in the room. There’s a whole host of them, and they all need to be hooked up to a central system through a series of cables, computers and switches. If Gavin were to fail, for instance if he failed to find some crucial bit of technology that happens to be hid away, then Blake could save the day without having to do a bit of work.
Blake knows how to pull this scheme. Some to-him inscrutable box into which the camera feeds must go is still waiting to be set up. Gavin is far too busy to notice, so when Blake in his professional and decisively republican attire asks two hapless techs in a firm voice to move it to another room, they do so. It’s easy. Feeling smug, Blake now simply stands back and waits until hell breaks loose. Gavin eventually realizes that something has gone wrong, and he calls for Kellyanne to explain the situation. She comes down hard on him. Useless, jeopardizing the entire event, a waste of time and space. Fix it. Blake finds his moment to step in. Did Gavin misplace something? He might know how to fix this. With a clap on Gavin’s back, he ‘miraculously’ finds the missing piece of the puzzle and presents it with a condescending smirk to Gavin. Kellyanne thanks Blake, as sincerely as she can muster, and tells him that he did them all a huge favor today. When the interviews start, Blake still has done nearly nothing, while Ian has been laying cable and Kate bossed around a million menial missions. He’s still the hero.
Kate slips away unseen right as the interviews begin. Her experience with Eric followed by the humiliating demands of techs and campaign staff has pushed her to a breaking point, and her choices were either to set fire to the building or cry in the bathroom. She chooses the latter, though not without regret. While she’s away, Ian and Blake watch Trump and Pence talk to the press. All goes well, at first. The presidential candidate answers questions in his usual manner, confident and booming next to the much less expressive Mr. Pence. Blake has shuffled his way forward, as close as he can, so he has a good view of Donald Trump’s face as it cracks. It looks like the interview makeup is breaking up or melting under the harsh lights, but the thin spiderweb cracks are too deep. Worse yet, when Mike Pence opens his mouth to speak, Blake sees nothing but rows of gleaming sharp teeth, too large to even fit in the man’s mouth. Pence’s lips move, and sounds come out, and no one but Blake seems to notice the horror that he’s becoming.
Sitting silently in the back of the room, Ian watches the absurd sight with rising panic. Yesterday was bad, but today… he must be hallucinating, or something. He grabs his can of Monster energy drink and chugs the entire thing, desperate to do anything except to look at that. When he places the can down, though2, the entire room has changed. Clear as day, he sees Mr. Trump’s makeup for what it is: a shell, a paper thin illusion concealing something large, white and slimy underneath. It peers out at the interviewers, all cast in shadow, and answers them so loudly that it makes the room shake. The reporters eat it all up. Beside him, in Mr. Pence’s place, sits something entirely inhuman, incomprehensible. It’s not a chair it sits on, but a throne constructed of heads, a hundred decapitated African men and women supporting the bloody horror, their deaths raising it up high. It speaks calmly to the press in its raspy, gargling voice. Ian can’t make out the words.
When Kate finally returns to the press junket, it’s already ending. She can tell immediately that something is wrong with Ian. The guy is always weird and jumpy, but right now he’s shaking. Cautiously, she tries to ask him what’s going on3. He’s seen something terrifying, and it refuses to leave his mind. He’s obsessing and panicking. When Ian tries to explain the things he saw talking to the reporters, Kate offers him a way to understand the situation. They’ve both witnessed some very strange things in the past days, and perhaps a tarot reading could at least help calm them. It’s dumb, and not real, but Kate has had good experiences with it in the past.
See Through The Illusion
3 Read A Person
“I don’t even know how to describe what Pence is.” – Ian
Meanwhile, Blake has left the penthouse and is rushing somewhere, anywhere, to be alone. In a bathroom mirror, he tries to inspect his own teeth. The image of Mike Pence’s lips parting and the gleaming fangs behind not even fitting inside the man’s skull won’t leave. Blake has never seen anything like it before, not in real life anyway. Studying his own mouth and realizing the impossibility of the vision makes him wish to never see it again, either.
Kate explains to Ian that it’s been a while since she’s done a reading. She hopes that it will at least clear his mind a little and besides, what harm could it do? A simple celtic cross will suffice, and it is one of the only spreads she still remembers how to do. The first two cards present nothing out of the ordinary. Ian has an opportunity on his hands, a way for growth and success, though it will come at a heavy price. The reading takes a troublesome turn after Justice is revealed in reverse… along with the rest of the cards. By the end, Kate is disturbed and shaken. She tries to conceal the worst from Ian, but he is headed towards a horrible future, and that the best he can hope for is to achieve inner peace before all is lost. The cards, save the Ace of Wands and King of Pentacles, were revealed in reverse. She explains to Ian that her teacher would have attributed that to a malign influence. Something is wrong in Trump Tower.
“You court damnation!” – Kate
After disappearing to be alone, Kate heads back towards the situation room. The day is not done, though the sun has already fallen past the horizon outside. Walking through one of the spacious empty corridors of Trump tower, a row of tall windows facing south to overlook downtown Manhattan. The view looks weird somehow, out of place, and after passing several windows with this creeping realization Kate stops to look outside. It’s dark, and Manhattan is never dark. The only thing visible on the island cast in night is the World Trade Center One. Kate can’t even see any other skyscrapers, it’s as if they’ve turned to rubble. No lights outside, no stars nor moon, only the WTC with a green light glowing out its windows. Confused and with rising panic, Kate picks up her pace. The darkness is all she can see. She’s no closer to understanding what she’s looking at by the time the corridor turns, and Kate can see the lights and buildings of eastern Manhattan as she takes the corner. She spins around on the spot, looking back south. The world is as it should, skyscrapers dominating the skyline and the WTC towering proudly above it all.
|Reaching the situation room, there is no respite to Kate’s stress. Michael Pence is back with donuts, to thank everyone for their great work during the press event. None of the three interns eat what he’s offering. Again, his boring little speech turns into the stuttered gibberish which seems to entirely pass by everyone else. They listen intently, spell bound by his unintelligible muttering. Ian can hear it too this time, and freezes in place. All he can do is stop breathing and try not to freak out. After staring at Mr. Pence’s suit, in vain trying to make sense of its strange angles, Blake locks eyes with Kate4. He needs to know what they should do about this. Kate seems at least determined to weather out whatever the hell is happening and talk about it later. Blake decides to do the same.||
Read A Person
A few minutes after the speech has ended and Mike Pence has left the room with a cold smile towards all his hard-working supporters, Ian is approached by a member of the campaign staff. He explains that Ian has been invited to come see Mr. Pence in private. Those who hear this crane their necks: that’s big news. While those around Ian seem impressed with it all, he is trying his hardest to stay calm and not run for his life. He can’t say no, of course, and heads for the elevator back up to the penthouse.
Mike Pence’s office, a converted spare room of Mr. Trump’s penthouse, is not lit well enough. The plastic American flag on his desk would seem out of place, were it not for the rest of his gaudy decorations: souvenirs from around the country, a Route 66 sign, a red, white and blue cowboy hat, and much more. Ian steps inside and is greeted by Pence sitting behind the large wooden desk. He offers coffee, high quality stuff, and tells Ian to sit down. The electric fireplace plugged in next to the desk plays a sparkling sound effect, though that’s not what makes the room warm enough to make Ian sweat. He is told, after some small talk, that he’s been recognized for his hard work for the campaign. He has been an invaluable help, truly outstanding. For his efforts, Mr. Pence would like him to nominate someone else to receive a special commendation on election night. Which one of the interns does he feel deserves the recognition?
Ian listens to Pence drum out an arrhythmic beat against the desk as he speaks, struggling to make sense of the words. He needs to choose someone, needs to respond, not even registering the unfairness of the situation until well after the fact. Ian picks June. He doesn’t know her, but she’s been the loudest worker of the group and he’s pretty sure she doesn’t sleep. Considering how much she’s hounded him, she is the first person he thinks of when it comes to hard work in the campaign. Pence asks first to make sure he knows who Ian is speaking about, then smiles and allows Ian to leave. Unsure how to parse the situation, Ian leaves in a hurry. He wants out of that claustrophobic, burning hot office and heads back down to the interns’ apartment.
While Ian is called to speak with Mr. Pence, Kate heads back to her bedroom. She is seeing things, hearing things, and none of her efforts to isolate herself are helping. She locks the door into the girls’ bedroom and picks up her tarot deck left out. She idly shuffles it, pacing back and forth and thinking about the day. She will give herself a full spread tomorrow, that might be good. Or really, really bad. A hard knock on the door snaps Kate out of her thoughts, she lets out a surprised yelp and drops the tarot deck. The cards explode out across the floor, all with their backs facing her except for Justice, reversed from where she’s standing.
Blake tries to get Kate to open the door. He seems agitated, and Kate initially refuses. She’s frightened by Blake, but once she hears him rambling about something being wrong and Pence’s teeth being all fucked up, she opens the door holding on to only the Justice card. The two try to think over all the possibilities. Eric was wearing enough cologne to cover up just about any stench. Blake suggests there might be a gas leak, or what if they’re testing something on them, some MK Ultra shit? Kate tells Blake everything Ian told her, and while Blake thinks the guy looks like a mass shooting waiting to happen, there’s no doubt he’s experiencing the same thing they are. Kate locks herself in the bedroom again, desperate for some alone time.
“Huge fucking teeth. Like, I don’t know how the guy chews his food-big.” – Blake
Blake goes to get Ian, but runs into him just outside the condo, coming back from Mr. Pence’s office. The two try to get each other up to speed, and Ian hearing everything Blake’s experienced finally convinces him that something big has happened. There’s more out there than just them. They must have been given some gift of sight, to expose whatever the truth is. He’s read about it online, fragments of proof that they’re being deceived, not just by the republican party but by leaders everywhere. Now they have a chance to find out for themselves what’s going on. It sounds insane, but they have nothing else to go on. Either they’re all going crazy in the same way, or Ian is right.