$Insert_Title, Episode 22: Jungle, Conclusion

"Aired" on: 2018-10-12

Cast: Hueco, Engie, Fahrenheit, Madoka, Vince


The show opens on a black screen, with the sound of the jungle rain thundering down. Then, a tight show of Mr. Fahrenheit's face, beading with sweat. The camera cuts to a high angle shot that shows that he has awoken in his tent. White text appears in the bottom corner: 9:00. 18 Hours until operation commences.

Mr. Fahrenheit stands and walks to the edge of the tent, peering out. He sees nothing but the camp, though only barely through the buffeting rain. A camera shot looking back towards the tent where Fahrenheit is reveals members of Marcus's Hounds (his mercenary team) in their full gear.

The opening credits of the show plays, with the music redone in a more dramatic tone.

We fade back in on the scene from the previous episode when all the characters were gathered by gunpoint. The same text, displaying the time of this scene and how long until the operation begins, appears in the bottom corner as Manifest leaves. There is a quick montage, with a slowly advancing timeline that shows:

  • Manifest speaks with Makoto and Marcus. Makoto has her head down, and Marcus appears to be the one emoting mostly.
  • Manifest meets with some of the locals, the people in the camp that are not one of Marcus's mercenaries, who have mostly been in the background doing labor and such.
  • Manifest, Marcus, and Makoto (I really gotta work on picking names) guide a local into the jungle when it is raining heavily. We mostly get far and medium-far shots during this bit. Marcus aims a gun at the back of the local's head, but Manifest stops him with a hand and takes the gun. She has the local man turn around and she shoots him in the head. (This is all shot from behind, so we never see Manifest's face during this.)
  • Manifest meets with Busty in one of the smaller tents. They seem to be friendly with each other, Manifest looking mostly relieved.
  • The ending scene from the previous episode, slightly re-shot to focus on Manifest rather than Madoka. No dialogue though.
  • Early morning (4:00), Manifest is meeting the Hounds at their tent. They have some people standing guard, and we get an establishing shot that showed that they have people watching the tent the player characters are in.
  • Manifest meeting with Tek, alone. The body language in this scene is fairly neutral and professional. They shake hands as if a business deal has been made.

Manifest returns to her own tent, where Madoka is. Behind her, Fearless can be heard speaking. "I never see eye to eye with Marcus, but in this case he's right. These psychopaths have to go or we're all going to get killed." Fearless stops abruptly when she sees Madoka.

Manifest responds to her, calmly, but clearly stressed, "I have heard your complains. I have heard Marcus's complaints. I have spoken to the locals. I will make my decision shortly." After Fearless leaves, Manifest sits down on her cot, lets out a heavy sigh, and begins sobbing lightly into her hands. Madoka mutters that this jungle is terrible for everyone, and asks Manifest if there's anything she (Madoka) can do to help. After a few minutes, Manifest states that Madoka can help by doing exactly what she is told.

Engie, Hueco, and Vince have been awake for a bit, at their own tent. Hueco at one point the evening before overheard one of the Hounds giving Tek his tomahawk and asking if he wanted to stay with them that evening. Engie had been made the same offer by his own friend from the Hounds, John. The camp has been more militant and active since the team was separated, with most of the Hounds patrolling within the camp in full armor and weapons. Engie has been asked by Busty to inspect equipment, and is currently back at the tent taking a break from that duty. The rest of the team have been pulled off the patrol schedule.

There is a medium far shot over Hueco's shoulder towards Engie, then a medium shot of Hueco looking troubled. There is a brief flashback to some actions that Engie has taken, and Hueco wonders if perhaps Engie was right to do what he did.

Fahrenheit is tended to by Tek, who ensures that the wound he received the day prior is well taken care of and won't cause any lasting injury. Fahrenheit makes a performative "Sorry about all this," which is responded to with a sarcastic, "me too." Tek then escorts Fahrenheit to a tent on the other side of the camp.

The tent is a fairly large tent, seemingly used to brief people on their operations. It has been cleared of boxes, save for about six or seven smaller crates that double as seats. The rest of the team slowly filters in as the groups are guided. Madoka is brought in by Fearless, and Engie, Hueco, and Vince are brought in by Busty.

Hueco: Hey girl, you seem to be into metal collars these days?
Madoka: I am, glad you noticed.
Hueco: You doing alright?
Madoka takes a seat, quietly.

The group talks, finally together once more. They make plans to drink, and possibly haze Vince for shooting Fahrenheit. The group all decides to be careful on the operation, and do as they are told. Vince sees Engie walk in and take a seat, and goes over.

Vince: You look weird and creepy, do you know where I can get roofies?
Engie: What?
Vince: This has all been very tramautic and I'd like to forget.
Manifest enters the tent.
Vince, turning to Manifest: You look weird and creepy, do you know where I can get roofies?
Manifest: Sit. Down.

Everyone sits down, and Manifest stares at the group blankly. The establishing shots of the scene show everyone's general body language. Manifest's body language is aggressively non-confrontational; she sits with her knees together, back straight, head tilted ever-so-slightly down, her hands are folded nearly in her hands, neutral facial expression.

Manifest: Mr. Fahrenheit. I investigated the complaints you raised yesterday. The body that was discovered was that of an awakened man who came with the locals. They were uncomfortable with him being awakened, as magic here in Aztlan is associated with harm and sacrifice, and as such the man was a curse. He was murdered by a member of the Hounds, who confessed to me immediately as soon as I awoke. The body was, however, dragged back into the middle of the camp by a second local, who carved out the dead man's heart in an attempt to steal his powers.
Mr. Fahrenheit: That seems to be common superstition. Okay.
Manifest: The dreams you experienced were due to the area's Background Count. Now, I am not a magician, and so this is the situation as it has been explained to me. The background count of an area has an affect on magic and magicians in an area, and can be influenced by magical tends or events that have happened in the area. Think of it as a sort of magical radiation. Makoto's magic dampened the effects of the background count, making your acclimation process smoother. I have been told that you should be fine by now, as far as magic goes. Your dreams were just that, dreams, influenced by the ambient magic of the area, to which you are not accustomed. Have these explanations satisfied you?
Mr. Fahrenheit: Well enough, I suppose.

Manifest explains that the group will not be taking part in the operation. She explains to the group that the Hounds are not comfortable with their team taking part. Manifest lays out what the rest of the camp has seen, since the party arrived.

  • The group boarded the plane, asking too many questions, attempting to be too cryptic.
  • Madoka caught sneaking around camp, filming people.
  • With the exception of Engie, the team has been relatively antagonistic towards the leadership structure of the camp.
  • The group does not seem to have a clear understanding of how field operations should be conducted. (Fahrenheit not understanding that as a mage, he should not stand out next to his group, for example.)
  • The group meets in secret, whispers of sabotage.
  • When challenged, they act recklessly and aggressively, putting the safety of other members of their group at risk. (Shouting and threatening Manifest while Madoka is crying and apologizing.)
  • The group threatens to kill their own, and straight-up shoots their own team in the back. (Hueco threatening Engie several times, and Vince shooting Fahrenheit in the back.)

Manifest explains that nobody in camp feels safe operating with the party, and that she cannot allow Hueco, Fahrenheit, and Vince to take part in the operation for the sake of everyone else she is responsible for. She emphasizes that the party are not the heroes in this situation, they are the danger threatening everyone else.

Hueco does not take kindly to the idea that Manifest will be taking Madoka. Fahrenheit talks him down some, and asks for assurances from Manifest. Manifest explains that Madoka will be well protected with her team, made up of herself, Tek, Fearless, Queen Busty, and now Engie and Madoka. Engie notes that Madoka is probably safer with Manifest's team than she would have been with the party otherwise.

Manifest addresses other concerns, such as payment. Manifest explains that she is willing to pay any member of the party who wants to, but that she strongly suggests that they do not. Taking the money would link them to this operation, which is a strike against an Aztechnology facility on Aztlan soil, which would be considered an act of war against the country of Aztlan (which is owned by Aztechnology). She does however maintain that if Vince, Engie, or Madoka need anything in the future that Manifest will do whatever she can to take care of them.

Manifest: I deal in favors, as my money is cursed by the entities for whom I operate.

After asking if there are any other concerns, she removes the headjammer she placed on Madoka, now that she has determined that Madoka is not going to act against the operation.

Manifest addresses Fahrenheit in regards to his leadership. She tells him that he has failed as a leader for many reasons, pointing out that his ego has blinded him to his responsibilities to his team. She asks, slowly and deliberately, "What are you doing to protect your team not just now or in the immediate future, but a month from now, a year, forever?"

Hueco: I don't understand what your beef with Fahrenheit is about. He's never not been there when we need him. I trust him with me life.
Manifest: I believe Fahrenheit could do better, for you and your team.

Fahrenheit asks Hueco to stop, calmly. Fahrenheit finally understands, at some level, what Manifest has been saying. Mr. Fahrenheit comes to a realization, however quiet and subtextual, that Manifest honestly just wants him to be a better and more reliable leader for his team. Though Hueco at one point attempted to challenge Manifest by saying that Fahrenheit wasn't their leader, and that everyone had a say, Mr. Fahrenheit recognizes that his decisions drive the team forward.

Mr. Fahrenheit relents, and asks for assurances for Madoka's safety. Manifest reiterates that Madoka's safety is her top priority, and that Engie with be with her at all times as well. Engie also assures Hueco and Mr. Fahrenheit that he will look after Madoka.

The team is dismissed. Hueco, Mr. Fahrenheit, and Vince are seen helping out with the local resistance members in packing up areas of camp, while Engie and Madoka go off to prepare for the operation.


Madoka is seen being outfitted by Fearless and Busty, who are having her do running exercises with different pack loads. They explain that Madoka will be at the center of their moving formation through the area of operation, and that she'll be safe with them.

The next scenes are a montage of the operation, beginning with a brief couple seconds of Stella at the Observatory giving people orders, a map of the complex appearing on the main screen, and a number of small icons appearing on the map indicating all the different teams.

There is an establishing shot of a multi-building complex, surrounded by an area of open space and then a fence, and the jungle beyond that. The scene cuts to a small underground cement room with a large conduit coming through each end. There is a small blinking light that can be seen on one of the exposed cable bundles in the room, and with a closer inspection it is a ring of shaped charges around several bundles. They detonate and the scene cuts to the establishing shot where the facility goes dark for a moment before emergency lights turn on.

The shot is revealed to be a shot from Engie's drone as it switches to low-light vision mode, and tracks a man running towards a smaller building off to one side. Engie's drone focuses in on a large tank on the outside of the building that is used for containing fuel. A moment later the facility springs to life once more, and an AR marker appears above the building, set by Engie.

Two missiles fire from the jungle, arcing towards their targets. One strikes the building with the generator, bringing the facility into darkness once more. The other strikes a satellite communications array that is used for backup communications.

Several quick shots show all the strike teams making their approach towards the facility. The show follow's Manifest's team, which is moving in a diamond formation, keeping Madoka in the center. Tek is at the front, flanked by Manifest and Fearless, and Madoka between them, and Engie and Busty in the rear.There are several short scenes of the group overcoming various obstacles:

  • Fearless uses the underbarrel shotgun to shoot off a lock, Manifest kicks the door in, Busty launches a grenade into the room with her launcher, and then Tek and Fearless rush into the room and clear out survivors.
  • The group encounters a powered elevator door, which Busty carefully powers with a battery pack pulled from one of the other team member's packs. Madoka accesses the hardware of the system, and hacks the doors open.
  • The group is at the bottom of the elevator shaft. Busty is controlling two Horizon Flying Eyes to scout the floor, rolling them through the ventalation system. She finds a group of scientists cowering in an office, and paints the guards in AR for the team's combatants. Busty explodes the Flying Eye, killing the scientists instantly, and the explosion acts as a distraction for Tek, Manifest, and Fearless to enter the lab area and overwhelm the guards.

In the lab, powered by a larger battery back-up, the group is gathered around a high-end data vault, protected by biometrics and password authentication. The port on the front of the terminal is non-responsive when Madoka attempts to connect her cyberdeck. She pulls out a hardware kit and opens up the case of the terminal to attempt to create a connection point on the inside.

Inside the case Madoka discovers several connectors, often used to programming chips, attached to several components. Using an endoscope Madoka follows the wires that are connected to the several components to a small device taped to the side of the case. The device is roughly one inch by two inches, and has a large green button on the front that reads "Open". With the small light she can see a piece of paper tucked in under the device, and using the endoscope's tiny hook she tugs it free.

The photo falls to the ground, and Madoka stares at it on the floor long enough for the audience to get a very good view of it. It is a square polaroid picture, prominently featuring a woman's ass with the subject's chrome nailed hand pulling a cheek aside to reveal a couple of incredibly x-rated piercings. In silver permanent marker, the photo is dated some seven months prior; the facility was hinted by Manifest to be less than six months old. Madoka picks it up and examines the rear, then flips it over to check the back, which reads:

Enjoying the view from behind, Riley? - <illegible signature>

A brief sepia tone flashback jumps back to when Madoka and the team met Manifest, remembering her real name was Riley Atway. Madoka calls Manifest over and shows her the picture. Manifest checks it, and then tucks it away in her jacket, telling Madoka to focus on the job in front of her.

Madoka quietly pushes the button on the hardware implant, hearing a happy chime from the system. The system has been unlocked, and Madoka can see as she is connecting her cyberdeck to the system that all the files are being decrypted. Madoka pieces together that the hardware implant had been collecting authentication information as it was read into the system, and stealing the encryption and decryption keys for the files from RAM as it was used. Rather than communicated any of this to the other people in the room, who are all standing guard some distance away, Madoka opens a game to look like she's working while she waits for all the files to be copied to a datachip.

Outside a large twin-rotor VTOL swoops in, landing in the center of the facility. Guy, the helicopter troll from the previous run, gives Madoka and Engie a thumbs up from inside the vehicle. All the teams that participated in the assault board the vehicle and it flies away.

One of the members of Marcus's team asks, "Why couldn't we be helidropped in the first place?" The camera moves over her shoulder and out of the window of the plane to focus on a radar array atop a mountain, burning with a large pillar of smoke extending into the morning sky. The show fades out with a shot of the plane flying out towards the sea.

Post-Session Notes

I got to finally bring out the seeds for future runs. I want to go over some things that I told the players out of character that are important to understand.

Manifest learned about the facility by watching possible assets and main scientists suddenly pack up and leave their normal routines. Since more than one happened at once she looked into their records and found out that they both went to the same airport in the span of two weeks. Then she followed up at that airport and got records within a couple weeks of that time and found a number of other Aztechnology scientists. She found out that most of the scientists were up at the same hotel, and that they all took a shuttle out, though she couldn't find out the destination.

She did figure out what model the shuttle was (it was a ground vehicle) and then had someone calculate the reasonable range on and off road for that vehicle, providing error room for one refuel during the trip.

Manifest had Stella, someone she has a close relationship with, run satellite images within that range through STARGAZER, which for all intents and purposes is an image recognition and analysis AI. STARGAZER discovered some anomalous parts of the satellite images that seemed to be artificial or altered. Once Stella got the Observatory up and running, Stella did a live fly-over to examine the anomalous area and discovered there was a facility up and running. From there Manifest began putting the pieces in place for this assault.

Manifest attacked this Aztechnology blackbook research facility entirely through side-channels, legwork, and some good old fashioned human intelligence. Someone else attacked the facility with a supply-chain attack and a hardware implant, which indicates that they found the facility either through direct records or deep analysis of other data that would only exist internally for Aztechnology, and then were able to identify and intercept key hardware during the facility's creation. Most importantly, they called out Manifest by her real name, hinting that they knew that Manifest would eventually find and assault the facility.

And this is all stuff that so far only Madoka is aware of, because she was the only one other than Manifest who knows about the hardware implant or the polaroid. I am incredibly interested to see how Madoka handles this, because it's a tough call. Calling Manifest by her real name in the way they did implies a personal relationship, and considering they attacked an AAA blackbook facility before it was built, it might be dangerous to let anyone know about it and get involved.

I did miss a minor scene (we didn't get to play it) between Engie and Manifest, which would have set up something else for the next "Season" as it were, but we can do that as a flashback at the start of the next episode which might be better anyways.

We will be getting some new characters in the next session. We've decided as a group that Engie will be taking a break, and that it would make sense for Madoka to [REDACTED]. We are all looking forwards to the next run and how this all progresses. <3