17 June, 2025 – The Persian Gulf
The session begins with a cutscene:
A very large teddy bear floated in a place that wasn’t a place, amidst a billion billion stars. He was a very well-dressed bear: wearing a navy-blue three-piece suit, a wide-brimmed brown felt fedora and a nice trenchcoat. He even had a little tie with polka-dots, held in place with a silver tie-pin shaped like a Recognizer from the movie Tron.
The teddy bear wasn’t happy. His snout scrunched up with a grimace. It was adorable.
In front of the bear, three screens floated. On the right, the console output from some bit of code executing somewhere in the world. In the middle, a composite map of the eastern end of the Persian Gulf, where a number of unlabelled blips moved and shifted. The left screen showed a conference room, as if viewed from a security camera.
It was a very well-appointed conference room, spartan, but classy, a hundred floors up or more, the skyline of downtown Manhattan shining through the floor-to-ceiling windows. A woman was sitting at one end of the table, her back to the windows. She was pretty, pale, dressed in a simple black skirt and blouse. She fiddled idly with a pen in one hand.
On the other side of the table stood an older man, close-cropped grey hair and tidy beard that was little more than stubble. He was dressed in a white oxford under a tweed vest and crisp blue jeans. He was nearly vibrating with impatience.
There was a click of the pen-cap in the woman’s hand.
“No,” she said at last with a soft voice.
“Absolutely not, Alfred,” she continued, pointing the pen at him meaningfully. “I won’t break what little truce we have with them.”
“Lydia…they’ve called in the army. There’s machine gun fire in the streets! They’re making for the water.”
“And I hope he does, make it, Alfred. I really do. You may not believe me, but I miss him as well. But you’ve already crossed a line getting them aid in-country, and I refuse to allow additional provocation.”
The man clenches and unclenches his fists a few times, and takes a few breaths.
“If they make it,” he pleads, “if they make it to international waters…”
“Then you go and pluck him out of there. But not before.” The woman pointedly swivels her seat to look out the window, dismissing the man. He turns and steps out of the camera’s field of view. The left screen changes to a security camera in the adjoining hallway, where the man is stalking away from the conference room. He glances up at the camera.
“You heard all that, I assume?” he says.
“I did,” replies the bear with a deep baritone. He looks over at the screen on the right and nods in approval at what he sees. “I’ve just come into possession of a pair of Iranian Korolev 2 drones that were tootling around Lavan looking for smugglers. They have fuel and air-to-ground missiles. I’ve always loved flying.”
“If you get anywhere near The Wall, they’ll trace you and burn you, Theodore.”
“Yes, well…we all have our burdens. Ta-tah, Alfred. Thanks for trying Lydia again.”
The bear swipes at the right screen, making it vanish, then peers intently at a dot on the middle screen. He’d never get anywhere close to The Wall. His drones were too far away. After a moment of reflection, he reaches into his vest pocket and extracts a little pink cartoon mouse. It’s dressed in shabby clothes and has a fairly ridiculous amulet around its neck. It squirms a bit, but not much. The bear lifts it up in the palm of his hand until they’re looking eye-to-eye.
“Hi!” it says in a cheerful voice.
The bear smiles warmly and whispers something to the mouse.
“Ok then!” it chirps, then zips away in a streak of color.
The bear watches it go for a moment, then closes his eyes and stretches out his fluffy arms like wings.
The yacht races north into the Persian Gulf. the military gunships following a search pattern behind them. Cole and Hugo delay their discovery with some deft navigation, but inevitably the helicopters catch sight of them and begin their approach.
Cole manages a miracle shot with the sniper rifle, sending one of the two attack helicopters crashing into the ocean. The second fires an air to ground missile and misses. Right as it fires a second, a jet of fire emerges from the night, and a giant dragon races by as the gunship detonates. Emma recognizes it as the beast she encountered in Chicago.
Emily receives a message that appears to have come from Teddy, advising them to turn to the west towards Qatar, and after a brief discussion, Hugo changes course.
The party rests for several hours, but just as dawn is about to break, they encounter a blockade of Emirati coast guard cutters at the edges of their territorial waters, one of which is in a position to intercept them. Hugo avoids the other ship long enough to officially cross into international waters, at which point two things happen at once:
First, Emily undergoes a brief, but agonizing psychic attack, but she recovers swiftly. Second, there is the sound of aircraft overhead, and several air to ground missiles descend from the clouds and disable the pursuing cutter.
Hugo steers the ship north and east towards the Sea of Oman. The party spends the day at a slow cruise outside the typical shipping lanes, then the next night rendezvous with the HMM Rotterdam, a giant container ship on route to the port of New Jersey.
At the pilot’s hatch, the party briefly attempts to negotiate with the ship’s Captain Hungwoo Pai to allow them to bring their heavier weapons aboard, but he refuses. The party comes aboard (with a number of concealed weapons) and Hugo scuttles the Yacht.
In the hold of the ship, the Captain escorts the party into a false container, roughly five containers wide, three deep, and three high, revealing a luxury suite with accommodations for a dozen. There are numerous changes of clothes present for the whole party as well as ample supplies and amusements. The Captain informs them that the crew knows they’re on board, but would prefer that they keep a very low profile for the duration of the journey.
The session ends with a cutscene:
There’s a house. In a quaint little neighborhood on the North side of Cleveland. It’s not a big house, but it’s well-cared for. In one of the house’s two bedrooms, on an old four-poster bed, lies a man. He’s an older fellow, maybe in his early sixties, once fit but now softened by years, almost, but not quite, bald.
A very nice three-piece navy suit hangs in the open closet, and a brown fedora sits with several like it on a hat tree in the corner.
He has a small, wry smile on his face. He twitches slightly, just a tic, and then is still. He stops breathing.
His arms are outstretched. Like he’s flying.