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 suicide, murder, and homophobic and racist slogans.
It’s well past midnight. Kate, Blake and Ian cannot sleep. Blake is pacing around the condo, at one time trying to lay down, at another stress smoking by the window. Bad things are happening and he feels horribly powerless. Ian has turned inward, consumed by a gnawing madness. He stares at Gavin sleeping in the bed next to his and considers but briefly a sacrifice. To what end or dedicated to who, he cannot say. Kate, feeling the weight of the last few horrible days and the stressful months before, wants to ground herself with a tarot reading. Yes, it’s late, but she can’t sleep anyway and tarot has helped her calm down in the past. She sends Ian a text, telling him that she’ll head to a break room in the southwest corner of their floor. If she’s not back by morning, please come looking for her. She doesn’t risk disappearing without a trace, and it does feel like a risk.
Kate sits down facing the windows to the south and west in the break room, a place she’s retreated to before to get away from everything. It’s clean, neatly decorated, and private, especially at night. She keeps an eye on the view over Manhattan while shuffling the tarot deck. What was it she saw outside before? As she lays the first card, The Moon in reverse, Kate immediately feels a twinge of hesitation. She’s committed to laying out a full cross and staff spread, but what if something bad happens? She steels herself for whatever might come. The Eight of Swords. The Five of Wands, reversed. She doesn’t like this. As the reading unfolds, Kate’s worries are not eased.
The King of Pentacles represents wealth, business… represents Donald Trump. It feels obvious to make the connection, but Kate does not in the least like it. He occupies the future, and the implication of how election day will turn out immediately darkens her thoughts. With a mix of her knowledge of tarot and deeply unsettling intuition, a churning of her stomach, she sees the division about to plague the country, with The Tower illustrating both the incoming political upheaval of the United States and the very skyscrapers that surround them. It starts here, and it ends here. The Two of Cups make clear reference to a union, a binding, a deal, but she can’t quite make out between what or who.
|As the insight reaches her, a cold gust of wind at Kate’s back makes the light flicker and die around her1. Her cards seem far away, or hidden underneath some strange and murky veil. She reaches out to touch them, and the room’s sudden darkness reveals the cards as something entirely different. The illustrations shift, the bright Ace of Swords instead a single green Skull on darkness and the Tower replaced by a chaotic and hateful skeleton, dancing upon the suffering masses. When the King of Pentacles on his throne is cast into the shape of a bald man, counting money before two begging men, Kate is not blind to the connection. The vision is both instant, and forever. The image burns into her mind, unwelcome clarity which gives her so many answers yet so many more questions.||
See Through The Illusion
These cards may be new to Kate, but their insights brew up from deep within her as if their secrets were always there, somewhere. She sees the spider in its web, the external influence in the staff of her reading, glow with a bright yellow until her eyes sting and water. The reading mocks her – neither thought nor feeling or intuition can help her. This is a prison which she is born with, and she will die with. If she wants a different ending to the story unfolding around her, Kate will need to shed her tainted and bound flesh and return to that eternal place embodied by the Ace of Skulls.
Kate looks outside, Manhattan a dark city with skyscrapers wrought in dark glass and rusted metal. It is a grandiose view, but foreboding, and she feels at once in the right place and completely lost. Kate collects her tarot deck off the filthy table, averting her eyes from the card labeled Yesod. With a death grip on her deck and taking two deep breaths, she stands up. The lights immediately flicker back on and her entire body feels as if twisting around its own axis, and she immediately empties her stomach’s contents onto the table. Kate stumbles back, and decides that rather than make sense of this overwhelming experience she’d rather go brush her teeth. There’s too much to think about, and too little time.
When Kate gets back to the condo, Blake is smoking by the window. The last person she wants to talk to, yet it’s always him that greets her. Their conversation is stilted as Blake tries to figure out if Kate has the situation more under control than he does. Since she’s holding gypsy cards, as he puts it, maybe she’s got this mess figured out. Kate admits that she’s freaking out because she keeps seeing some city that’s not New York outside the windows, and Blake creeping on her is not fucking helping. She clutches the can of mace in her pocket, never out of reach, all too ready to use it if Blake takes a single step towards her. Their conversation turns into an argument which becomes a fight, getting louder and louder until finally they both take a deep breath each and agree that now is not the time. Blake lights another cigarette.
“Look, Kate, I don’t like you. As a person.” – Blake
“Fuck you too.” – Kate
As they try to review their options, Ian emerges from his room. He only says a few words, trivializing their worries of prison and future opportunities in the face of aliens and otherwordly monsters controlling their lives. Nothing they’ve done or will do matters, reality is a lie. They realize that if the conversation continues, they’ll no doubt wake everyone up. They agree to continue their talks on election day, and try to catch some sleep. The unresolved conversation and tension between them weighs heavy, as do their knowledge of the Truth and worries of the future.
Banging on all the condo doors wake the interns up. Loud yelling from senior campaign staff forces them all out of bed, yanking blankets off of people and threatening to drag them out by the hair. It’s not-quite-four in the morning, and Melania Trump has just arrived. She’s waiting down in the lobby, and needs help with her bags. Move. Kate takes her time, on principle, which seems to make their professional harasser thoroughly annoyed. She has ceased to care. Everyone is thoroughly unhappy with the menial task at this ungodly hour, but grouchily stumble into the elevator and head down.
Melania, in a bright yellow coat, waits with a struggling doorman when the interns make their way down the Trump Tower golden escalators. Most of them perform their job in groggy silence while Melania chats way, talking about Mar-a-Lago and how nice it is of all of them to help her. Rey and Blake speak briefly with her, but considering what he’s seen the last few days Blake is thoroughly suspicious of the woman. Conspicuously, republican sweetheart June remains quiet and with her head down. She looks as tired as Kate, who cannot muster any care for Mrs. Trump until partway up the elevators. It is then she realizes that Melania’s yellow jacket burns in her eyes with the exact same shade of yellow as the spider card last night.
Melania’s chatter dies down the moment she enters the penthouse apartment. Her smile fades, replaced with a cold and disinterested look when Mr. Trump approaches her. They greet, but while the interns haul Melania’s gigantic suitcases and luggage bags out of the elevator they do not even see the two touch. There’s palpable tension between the couple. When they leave, Melania turns to them and gives a small wave.
“Try to keep each other safe.” – Melania Trump
The strange goodbye sticks with them for a while, but the interns are all too unwashed and hungry to think much about it, or Trump’s grunt of annoyance when she says it. They all head back down towards their condo, fighting for a spot in the bathroom. Before Blake can get there, though, June stops him in the hallway with a quiet plea for attention. She waits until they’re alone to speak. She seems to be sick, or exhausted, and Blake expertly feigns worry for her.
June is at her wit’s end and feels she can only trust Blake with this, because he at least cares about the campaign. She’s not been able to sleep since yesterday, not even a five minute nap. Stumbling over her words, she admits to having visions of Donald Trump smiling at her, before blood rushes in and drowns everything. She can smell it. Every time she closes her eyes it’s the same thing, and she doesn’t want to let this get to her when all she has to do it push through for election day. She’s scared. With June almost in tears, Blake puts an arm around her for comfort and tells her that he gets it. All she needs is some rest. The stress is getting to everyone, but he can get June a sleeping pill and let her lay down for a few hours. Blake convinces her that really, that is all she needs. He’ll cover for her too, of course, or so he claims. She nods in agreement, wiping tears, and Blake leads her back to the condo.
Once June is put to bed, Blake gets a word with Ian. When he tells Ian about what June just said, Blake only gets laughter in response. It’s just so much. He finally tells Blake that he went to Pence’s office yesterday and nominated June for a “special commendation”. So, yeah, they’re probably going to eat her. While Ian is laughing, Blake gets a distinct feeling that the guy is losing his grip entirely, even worse than yesterday. He’s mad that Ian never told them that he went to Pence’s office, he probably should have mentioned that in his crazed ramblings.
The day continues, way too long already. Election day is chaos, everyone simultaneously working with laser focus and breaking down from the stress. The campaign has always had a taboo from mentioning losing, but today there’s a significant shift in tone. Trump might actually win. Ignoring their work, Kate manages to catch Ian and lead him off somewhere secluded. They sneak off to empty conference room, Blake spotting them and tagging along uninvited. Kate doesn’t welcome him, but at least allows him to join so long as she can still keep a death grip on her mace. They have to figure out what to do somehow.
Their conversation must sound like madness to anyone else. Kate explains what she saw during her tarot reading last night, the other city outside Trump Tower and the strange cards she understood though she’d never seen them. Blake is convinced by now that the entire leadership of the campaign and everyone who associates with them are evil. Melania, Kellyanne, they all have to be in on it, there’s no way they’re not. Ian’s theories range from aliens to extra-dimensional demons, but they can make sense of none of it. He suggests they cross over into the other city Kate saw to learn more. She did it by accident, so there must be some way. What could that possibly help, though? In six hours, their nation might be ruled by a giant slug monster. Kate cannot believe those words escape her mouth, but they are true. Their options seem futile. They could try to expose the truth, but how? Who would believe them? What is the truth? They could just run away, but it’s all so close to ending. They find no common ground and admit, dejected, that all they can do is wait and hope that maybe, just maybe, things will work out, or that they’ll at least be ready if it doesn’t.
When they get back to the situation room, it’s not long before Kellyanne Conway, looking for June, instead grabs hold of Blake and asks him a favor. Ian and Kate are waved over as well, she thinks it might be better to send a group. They are to deliver a gift to Mrs. Hillary Clinton, a show of goodwill and sportsmanship from Mr. Trump towards her campaign. Initially Blake is apprehensive to accepting the gift bag, fearing the worst after the past few days, but looking into it he sees only a bottle of scotch. An exquisite bottle, with a label stating, among other things, Anno MCMXVI. The group is to take a limo to Brooklyn and deliver this to Mrs. Clinton herself.
Outside Trump Tower, the crowd of protesters grows. They’ve been there for months, people from all creeds and backgrounds who loathe the possibility of Donald Trump becoming president. The protests have largely been peaceful, but as the interns’ limo drives past to leers and jeers, they feel something brewing. Anger is thick in the air, and the police are ready for it already.
When they arrive at the Democratic campaign headquarters, the three are greeted by a small group of interns much like themselves. They look overworked, underpaid, and haggard. There’s a healthy amount of suspicion. Still, some smalltalk between the camps occurs and Kate admits to one of the Clinton interns that of course she voted Clinton and that she regrets ever thinking she could do good in Trump’s campaign. Her conversational partner admits that he also regrets his internship. The look he gives her tells her that things must have gone horribly wrong for them as well.
Mrs. Hillary Clinton greets them with a small smile in her office, a spacious room which the small woman seems to fill out comfortably. She’s tired, and old-looking, but at least willing to appear amiable. Kate smiles at her, trying to let her stress from the past months and days wash off of her so she can meet one of her role models, face to face. Blake steps forward to deliver the bottle, and Mrs. Clinton thanks him with a small nod. She takes the bottle out of the glossy black gift bag, and her smile and any cordial facade drains from Hillary’s face.
Get out, she growls at them. The lights buzz and flicker, casting her office in so many moving shadows until it seems her own is growing larger from her feet. Mrs. Clinton is clutching her chest at this point, but this doesn’t look like one of the sick spells she’s had in the past. This is different – the bones are rolling and twisting under her skin. Blake and Ian are quick to turn around, decisively done, but Kate refuses. She refuses to believe that this would even be happening, not Hillary. She stays, and Clinton takes a few steps towards her. Short, hunched over, yet an intimidating presence hinting at much more rage and power than Kate could ever oppose. Get out, you little bitch.
|Kate freezes for a moment2. No. She won’t get out. She needs answers, please just tell her what’s going on at Trump Tower. They deserve to know who, or what, the next president will be. Blake and Ian are standing by the door, silent, eager to leave and wondering what the hell Kate thinks she’s doing.||
Act Under Pressure
The thing that by this point is clearly only portraying Hillary Clinton gets close. Her voice seems fake, as if someone behind those eyes is doing a very good impression of the woman. Yet, it is her, telling Kate that understanding it won’t do any good. That, despite what she knows or has seen, it does not matter. The thing that is Hillary spits out that it is not for her to intervene in this, that Kate should go run her little errands and get out of her way. She will fight until the end, but Kate’s meager little existence will not make a difference in that battle. Again, Mrs. Clinton tells her to leave or face the fucking consequences, and with that Kate hurries out with a nausea so heavy that every step makes her want to vomit.
She doesn’t say a word. Instead of turning back towards the limo, Kate simply walks away. Down the street, at a brisk pace, towards the nearest subway station. She has nothing left. Having seen the deep end of American politics has created a gaping hole in her soul and nothing will heal that. The only option left for Kate is to go home. If the world is ending, she’d rather be with her family in Pennsylvania than at Trump Tower. Blake runs after her, asking if she’s okay, which she is not. They share a few words, wishing life over death to one another at the very least, and then part ways.
“What the fuck makes you think I’m okay?” – Kate
Ian and Blake only speak briefly on their way back to Trump Tower. They both know they might be heading towards their doom, but neither is willing to admit that Kate made the right choice. Outside Trump Tower, the protests have heated up. Rocks have been thrown, barricades overturned, and police are dragging away beaten civilians while others scream at them or watch in fuming silence. So many enraged people, yet none of them know the depths of Trump’s deceptions. The two interns head in quickly, enduring a barrage of hateful taunts from the campaign’s opponents.
They enter their condo for a quick break, just a few hours left to weather before election day is over. Unfortunately, there is a scene unfolding in there which Blake and Ian should have seen coming, but didn’t. Rey is crying. Gavin is standing stone-faced beside her, shaking. Kellyanne Conway and two other senior campaign staff are pacing around the room, talking to each other and the interns. There’s a large pool of blood on the floor, leaking out from the door to the bathroom.
June’s wrists are slit. She’s on the bathroom floor, two streams of blood creating a checkered pattern over the floor tiling. Kellyanne seizes Ian when he tries to leave and orders him to stay. The conversation between her, Ian and Blake is as brief as it is harsh. They are not to speak of this, not spread it, not even allude to it, until the election is over. June’s family will be notified, it will all be handled properly and empathetically… but not yet. She can not, will not have an upset like this on Mr. Trump’s winning day. Both Ian and Blake agree, shocked but ultimately not in a position to argue.
|Blake attempts to ask a few questions3, trying to tease out whether Kellyanne might have known about this ahead of time. He only manages to annoy and insult her, and with a curt goodbye she sends all the interns away to do their job while she does hers. She is not in the mood to be dealing with this, not now.||
Read A Person
Blake and Ian split off, almost without taking note of the other. While Blake is trying to keep composed and wait out the madness, feeling horribly alone and powerless, Ian has a plan. He knows exactly what he wants to do, the only thing he can do. He pockets a knife from a break room, a safety measure, then finds a set of maintenance stairs and makes the long climb up towards the penthouse.
As the election results start coming in, everyone in the situation room tense waiting for the win, Blake feels a heavy hand on his shoulder. He spins around and stands face to face with Mr. Pence, a calm and sensible smile on the man’s face. Come with him. No questions are asked, Blake knows by now that he’s not in a position to refuse. They take the elevator to the penthouse, the short time alone with Mike Pence feeling like a dreadful eternity. They reach the top, and exiting into a hallway there is a loud banging on a closed, locked door. Blake starts at the sudden noise, while Pence doesn’t even raise an eyebrow and instructs him to open the door.
Ian is let into the penthouse, Pence waiting for the two to have a hurried conversation. Ian is surprised to see Blake up there, but for once Blake seems more freaked out than him. For how twitchy Ian has been the last few days, he is almost eerily calm now. Decisive. He’s not even surprised when Blake tells him that Mike Pence knew that he was behind the door. The two follow Mr. Pence along to the presidential candidate’s office, and are welcomed for the first and last time into Donald Trump’s inner sanctum.
For a second, it feels as though they’ve stepped into some absurd parody of the Oval Office, which seems to be the exact intent judging from how Mr. Trump’s office is set up. The soon to be president is sitting at his large mahogany desk, behind him a floor-to-ceiling window revealing Manhattan and the WTC 1 towering up right behind Mr. Trump. Once Pence has closed the door behind Blake and Ian, he joins Trump beside his desk. There are two others in the room, Melania Trump with a small smile on her face and an unwell looking Ivanka Trump. Both Blake and Ian recognize her, but her skin is slimy and desaturated, her expression sick or bored or both. Neither of them say anything, waiting until Donald greets the interns with a disdainful look on his face.
Trump speaks, giving them a bland thanks for their service, and then explains in simple terms that before the end of the night, they will need a blood sacrifice. Time seems to stop for a second after he says it, Blake barely containing his panic as a cold sweat locks him in place and soaks his clothes. Ian says nothing, simply taking in his surroundings and the lunatic event unfolding. Blake asks about June – didn’t they already get their sacrifice? – and Michael Pence steps forward to explain with a twisted smile that while, yes, June was supposed to be the sacrifice, it seems she caught wind of their plan and decided to commit suicide. Unfortunate, but these things happen. Instead, it will have to be either Ian or Blake. It is a shame Kate could not come to weigh in on the decision.
Finally, Ian speaks.
“I know the truth – or at least a piece of it. Weak minds can’t handle it – June killed herself. Kate ran away. Blake would rather pretend this didn’t happen. But not me. I’ve accepted this. I hunger for something more. I go unappreciated no matter how hard I try. I could care less what happens to these people. I give myself freely. Use me as a tool for your will. There is nothing left for me here.” – Ian
The rant brings a smile to Mike Pence’s face, an unpleasantly genuine smile. Blake feels a weight off his shoulders, eyes widening and turning to look at Ian. He is willingly giving himself up, and Mr. Pence is guiding him to the large desk. Blake doesn’t have to do it. He will be fine. He readily helps Pence with tying Ian to the desk, hefty ropes binding him foot and hand until he’s completely locked down in front of Donald Trump, his family watching on silently. Before joining Ivanka and Melania to the side, Blake leans in close to Ian and whispers to him.
You know, guess I was right about you. Ian was always a doormat. With that, he stands aside and allows Mike Pence, having taken Ian’s knife from him, to get to work. Ian is cut into pieces by Pence, who is smiling gleefully with those teeth too large for his mouth, and Blake watches quietly as Ian screams and writhes in pain and sweet relief. It’s done. Ian is doing his part, knowing in his heart that this is the future. Pence produces from behind the desk a large chalice in patinated copper, and when the black liquid from it is poured over Ian’s face and chest, the smell of burnt flesh and roses fill the room and Ian’s screams finally die out.
Outside the window, behind Donald Trump, Ian watches the world warp and change in his last moments. The sky turns a filthy, dark gray, and among the Manhattan skyscrapers massive signs and billboards flicker into existence. Defend Your Country, Report Sodomy. The American Dream is the White Dream. No Asylum for Criminal Races. Above it all towers the World Trade Center, and the wide smile of the country’s new president. Once Ian’s flesh is singed and melted and his blood has seeped into the floor boards, the visions fade and his soul is allowed escape.
The election is over. Donald J. Trump has won, and will be sworn in early next year. The blood sacrifice was successful, the pact is sealed, and life continues. Blake is given a handsome bonus for his excellent work in the campaign and a glowing recommendation from the vice president that’s sure to take him far in life. Despite some tough times, he saw it through to the end. It was eye opening. He understands the world a little better now, and is certain that his future will be bright.
And that was And The Rockets Red Glare. Special thanks to my players: 2Lainz (Ian), Caphriel (Kate), and Jeremy Bearson (Blake). This scenario was a blast to GM, and though it was challenging I hope that I represented it well! Thank you for reading.