August 20th-21st, 2025 – New York City
A fight ensues. During the battle, many of the party find their powers non-functional or much more difficult than normal, additionally, firearms don’t function. Seamus and, surprisingly, Margaret in a vicious display of vampirism, dispatch the two attackers. When they “die”, they vanish from the world and Emma sees what appears to be their life force flow into Seamus and Margaret – who both get a visceral rush. Daphne was seriously wounded in the fight and Emma manages to get her patched up the old fashioned way, then discovers she could siphon some healing strength from Margaret.
After Daphne and Margaret find replacement clothes and the rest of the party finds knives and baseball bats from local souvenir shops, they head towards the waterfront to investigate the multiple “lights” that Emma is sensing there.
The party discovers a small community of people living on the aircraft carrier Intrepid on the waterfront. They are met with an increasing amount of suspicion the longer the discussion goes on (TMI, people), but they do gain quite a bit of information about how this afterlife works. After being turned away, the party holes up in the cruise terminal further up the waterfront to rest.
The next morning, the party senses a new arrival.
Summarized list of learnings follows:
- The fundamental resource of the afterlife seems to be the force of life itself. Emma can detect and quantify it and sees how diminished it is in everyone compared to the living world.
- People who “kill” others absorb the victim’s life force. Doing so grants strength and powers, but also acts as a corrupting influence. Individuals with an excess of this force show up more “real” or more “in color” than the rest of the world and are instantly recognizable.
- People who do not ever absorb power from others in this way eventually fade away over the course of a decade or two. No one visibly ages. Jamie posits that as life force fades, people “fall through” to lower layers of the afterlife until ending up in the land of shadow that he and Emily experienced.
- The afterlife reflects the current state of the world of the living and changes made by the inhabitants only last as long as they are observed. This means there’s no scarcity, but permanent changes are difficult to maintain. Most chemical reactions generally don’t work, including combustion.
- There are bands of killers roaming the world. The people at the Intrepid know of the Summer Knight. They know him as Martin and he has gathered many of these raiders into a camp in Lower Manhattan. They said he showed up on the scene about six months ago. They say that Martin is immensely powerful and should be avoided. They also discuss very old beings of vast power who roam the world of the dead. Everyone hopes to avoid the attention of these entities.
- Not everyone who dies shows up here. When they do, everyone in the vicinity can “feel” it, along with a general direction.
- Jamie feels as if he could return himself and others to the world of the living, but it would require each individual gain enough life force to be able to exist in that world. As far as the party can determine, the only way to do this would be to take the life force of others.
The two charged. Margaret had first intended to try to grab the knife from one of them, but realised that it would be too difficult and dangerous. Instead she tackled the woman. They both went down in a tangle, and then Seamus smashed the woman’s skull. The woman simply disappeared.
She was horrified. If Margaret had not tackled her, the woman might still have been alive. The tiny voice pointing out that technically, they were both dead, but Margaret was probably twice as dead as most of the others.
Then there was no more time to think, as she saw the man land a blow, stabbing Daphne in the stomach. A lot of thoughts rushed through her mind at once: What happened if you died again, here? Yes, you disappeared, but to where? Or did you just cease to exist? And if people disappeared when they died, if there were no bodies left behind, would there even be blood she could eat? If not, she realised she needed to find out as soon as possible, before she got hungry. She remembered how Beth had lost control and attacked them back after they had woken up; she would rather not end up doing something like that.
Her plan was not a good one; it was dangerous, of course, and there was a real risk that one of the others would kill the man if she managed to subdue him, but he had just stabbed Daphne, he was trying to kill them, and if she could restrain him somehow, perhaps they did not have to kill him. And in the process, she could test if she would end up starving to death here or not.
The man was too distracted by the others to notice when she moved up behind him. She grabbed hold of him, and bit him; it was just supposed to be a small bite. To see if she could in fact feed here, and possibly pacify him in the process. In retrospect, a bad idea.
She had never been fond of wine. But she wondered if this was what the real enthusiasts experienced when presented with a really good wine. It tasted wonderful. It was possibly the best she had ever tasted.
Only when man disappeared, popping out of existence from between her hands, did she realise something was wrong. And then something, a burst of energy, hit her.
It was like drinking liquid fire without the killing heat. It was the rush of a good rock concert standing right before the scene. It felt like skydiving; she had done that only once, Brandon had managed to convince her to try, and she had wanted to try it again; in fact, they had planned to do it during their honeymoon, except there had never been one. But the rush had been exhilarating, just like the one she felt now.
She should have felt bad about killing the man. She _did_ feel bad, but the rush was powerful enough to take the worst sting off it. He had, after all, stabbed Daphne. It looked bad, and even worse, it seemed like Emma was unable to heal. She patched Daphne up as best she could, while Margaret and some of the others went looking for useful things. Like clean clothes, and water to get rid of the blood.
Seamus kept going on about how they should kill more people to become stronger; Margaret could understand the desire, but even the thought of killing people on purpose to gain their strength was revolting.
The group headed off towards a spot where Emma said she saw other signs of life, not as bright as the two they had killed had been, and not as bright as, according to Emma, Margaret and Seamus now were, but clearly people.
People who had taken refuge in the big aircraft carrier Intrepid. There were several men guarding the ship, and they were at least willing to talk. They were, understandably, cautious, and Margaret could not blame them. In fact, part of her hoped they would not end up inviting them onto the ship; she suspected her group would be a genuine threat to the people on board.
So, she could probably have been more cautious with what she said. On the other hand, she did not want to deceive these people. And they were dead, after all. They had to have seen enough that they should have been able to believe at least some of what she told them. But they seemed sceptical, to say the least, and they also, somehow, noticed that she and Seamus had clearly killed someone, which, naturally, did not make the men more inclined to trust the party.
Not that she actually tried to make the men mor suspicious; she assumed that they would be more open to supernatural stuff, since they were well aware that they were dead. Clearly, their acceptance of being dead and still being alive did not mean they would accept other supernatural stuff. She was, for just a moment, tempted to show them, but pushed that thought away. That would definitely make them more, not less, suspicious.
In the end, her group went away with a lot more information, at least. And some good advice, such as finding a place to stay that was easy to defend. They ended up at the cruise terminal close by. Then Margaret voiced the thought that had been at the back of her head for a while, asking Emma if she could drain some of Margaret’s new-won lifeforce to heal Daphne.
Emma was hesitant, but did eventually agree; she wanted Margaret and Seamus to remain strong in case they were attacked, but Margaret argued that it would be useful to know, both if she could take some of the power, and if she could still heal, and it would be nice to test it in a fairly safe environment.
The experiment succeeded, and while Margaret regretted losing the kick she had gotten from the man’s death, she did feel slightly better in that at least his lifeforce had helped healing the damage that he had caused.
The men had told them that not everyone who died ended up here. They did not seem to know why some did and some did not, and no one knew what happened to people who died in the world of the dead either. She wondered, could not help but wonder, if someone she there was a chance that someone she knew was here, in this world.
Jamie had a theory about where people who died here went; that perhaps they would pass on to a next world, and the next, closer and closer to some terrible world that he and Emily had seen.
The next time they were attacked; because it was little doubt that they would sooner or later; Margaret hoped that Emma could try to drain some of the strength from their attackers, but not enough to kill them. And then to try and transfer that power to Jamie. That might give them a less lethal way to gain enough power for Jamie to bring them all back. And it might stop an attacker without killing him or her.
The men at the ship had also told them that when new people arrived, they would know. It was difficult to explain, he had said, but they would know. Seamus started on about killing more people and draining their lifeforce again, clearly trying to come up with reasons to justify it.
Margaret understood what he meant when, the next morning, right after they awoke, they felt something. Clearly, somone had just arrived.