Fellow role-players, here are Jason’s and my notes for Session 6 of his pulp space opera game, which Brian W. hosted in Newton, Mass., on Monday, 29 April 2013:
- “Sgt. Joe ‘Knack’ Kanaki” [Gene D.]-male Nisei Jasoomian (Japanese-American Terran human) tail gunner; two-fisted patriot who’s smarter than he looks
- “Beauregard ‘Bo’ Jennings” [Beruk A.]-male African-American Jasoomian, USO trumpet player, expatriate (NYC), former professional boxer and member of the French Foreign Legion
- “Kar Dalan (Kâr Dé-lan)” [Brian W.]-male aysismad (red Martian), an independent panthan (sellsword/scout) currently serving the nation of Raxar (Rax-âr)
- “Olera Gala” [Sara F.]-female Barsoomian masena (Thurian/Martian), one-eyed feline hunter and scout
- “Capt. Billy ‘Rip’ Rohrer” [Bruce K.]-male American Jasoomian pilot of the “Lucy Goosey,” a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber
- “Betsy ‘Blaze’ Harper” [Rich C.G.]-female American Jasoomian, fiery redhead, former Olympic hopeful, and aspiring actress on USO tour for exposure and patriotic duty, along with Carla Rizena and Lucy McIntyre
“From the correspondence of Joseph Kanaki, 13 January 1943:” Dear Mother, I’m taking another moment to jot down my thoughts about our recent misadventures, even if it seems ever less likely that you’ll see this. The crew and passengers of the “Lucy Goosey” had traveled (inadvertently) from Mussolini’s Italy to the strange world of Barsoom, which author Edgar Rice Burroughs identified as Mars.
While trying to find our way home, we got entangled in local affairs and found ourselves in an alternate timeline. To fix that, we journeyed 1 million years into the past to find the mad scientist Zylor Bar and U.S.O. entertainer Lucy McIntyre.
I know — it sounds crazy, like we’ve seen too many foo fighters or inhaled some poison gas. For all I know, that’s what actually happened. If you’re still reading this, you’re probably confused or laughing. I would too, but being stuck in a red jungle makes me want to cry or hit something.
In the then-village of Kiptang, we had witnessed what appeared to be a tent revival led by Zylor Bar (also known as Thuran Gan) and Lucy. Unlike the Barsoom we had first arrived on, the people were all Caucasian-looking Therns [ŧür-en], or more accurately white Martians or Thermad [ŧür-mad], rather than four-armed green Tharks or statuesque red folk.
While we crept through the scarlet grass to see where the procession went, scout Olera Gala noted that she detected no scent of Zylor or Lucy. I asked some of the villagers who were putting away ropes and pulleys what they were doing. They said that they have been re-enacting the sacred arrival for the past three (Martian) years.
Even though our quarry turned out to be imposters, Capt. Billy “Rip” Rohrer decided to follow the pilgrims of the White Hand (thern literally means “White Five/Hand”) to the city-state of Hors, about two days’ hike away.
We grabbed some native clothing and tried to blend in as best we could. Betsy “Blaze” Harper, with her fair skin and red hair, had the easiest time, but red-skinned Kar Dalan and Negro Beauregard “Bo” Jennings had to cover up or hang back.
Van-tija, who had once served Thuran Gan, stuck close to Bo, and Olera and poor “Blinky,” a fellow masena, stayed invisible. Rip’s short blond hair raised some questions, but he passed it off as the result of losing a bet.
About halfway between Kiptang and Hors, we stopped at the town of Modjel [Mō-ĵel]. The gate rolled open, and the cultists of Issus recoiled as fierce warrior Hor Kai Lan [Ōr Kī Lan] rode forth to greet them. He surprised everyone by removing a wig and loudly proclaiming his faith in Issus — the false god whom Zylor Bar was setting up Lucy to be.
As the assembled soldiers began saluting, it was strange to Kar and Olera but all too familiar to those of us fighting the Axis. No world deserves fanatical armies led by charismatic and unscrupulous men. We resolved to head immediately to Hors.
The prosperous Thern city was on the coast of a great ocean Throxeus [Ŧür-âx-is], another anomaly on Barsoom. While the people, architecture, and customs changed more slowly there than on Earth, the flora and fauna were nearly unrecognizable. Then again, 1 million years ago, our ancestors had yet to be civilized.
At Bo’s urging, we stopped at the academy of Ro Tan Bim [Rō Tan Bim]. We learned that No Vor Kim [Nō Vōr Kim], the jeddak (king), had set a price on Zylor Bar’s head. So our friend must have moved on. Still, it was worth learning as much as we could in the first city we had seen in a while.
Blaze posed as a princess of Lothar, a distant realm, to obtain an audience with the jeddak. Olera shadowed her invisibly. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very well, because Blaze’s impertinent questions about “the heretic” were taken amiss on the eve of a royal wedding, and she was thrown out of the palace.
Kar later joined Olera in sneaking around the Tasor (Té-zōr, “sun tower” or lighthouse), following newcomer general or jedwar [ĵed-dwr] Hor Kai Lan and his friend, the prince Kam Han Tor [Kam An Tōr]. Somehow, Hor Kai Lan had managed to conceal his conversion from Hors’ rulers.
The rest of us went to the wharf, where two sailing ships arrived from Lothar. We beheld the lovely Princess Sohna [Sōn-â], the bride to be, as well as red-headed Kal Kirad [Kal Kē-Rad], who was apparently also friends with Kam Han Tor. Blaze presented herself as “Phainara [Fī- nâr-â], an expatriate subject of jeddak Volan Div [Vōl-an Div].
After spending a night trying to scrounge up supplies, get some rest, and avoid notice, we attended the wedding ceremony. A Lotharian priest invoked sun/banth deity Komal [Kō-mal]. Clearly, the cult of Issus was not in favor here.
Three aged Orovar (ōr-ō-vâr, “revolutionary scientists,” or scholars) — mentalist Lum Tar O [Lüm Târ Ō], embalmer Le Um Lo [Lē Üm Lō], and naturalist Ro Tan Bim — also offered words of support, and No Var Kim and Sohna were married. As the crowd dispersed, Rip approached Hor Kai Lan, and Bo, as “Nolat,” chatted with curious Ro Tan Bim.
We learned that Kam Han Tor had designed a wondrous ship for Hor Kai Lan, which was then “stolen” by followers of Issus. No doubt, Zylor Bar had found a way to influence both Kam and Hor for the design and destination of the Dusar [Dü-zâr, or “northern fish”], which resembled the flying vessels we had encountered in Barsoom’s future/present.
Olera and Kar went to the city’s outskirts, both to keep watch for cultists and to enjoy the (for them) lush nature. As night fell, the monocular masena smelled magongi [ma-gân-gē], hunters native to her moon of Thuria [Ŧür-ē-â]. Kar saw a disturbance at one camp of pilgrims and told the rest of about it in the morning. The survivors told us that they were hunting for a gem.
Meanwhile, Bo and Van-tija went to Ro Tan Bim’s academy to see if they could learn more that could help us. We knew that both Zylor Bar and we needed an intact seenar (a rare gem that scintillates with “ten rays of the spectrum”) to travel through time. In addition, Kar recalled that we had heard a story about Kal Kirad eventually slaying Zylor Bar in another timeline.
Taking the low road, Rip and I went to some bars to loosen the tongues of sailors with liquor. We heard tales about silians (sil-ē-an, sea monsters), how the Dusar vanished, and how Kal Kirad was once — and might still be — a lover of Sohna.
“Phainara” and “Nolat” talked with Lotharian Zarith Ness [Zâr-iŧ Nes]. Blaze seemed to catch the eye of Hor Kai Lan, while Bo learned that Kal Kirad and Kam Han Tor had been the commanders of rival fleets until a duel turned them to friends.
We regrouped and hatched a plan to draw Zylor Bar out. By starting a rumor that a seenar had been found and was in the city, we could lure the time meddler from wherever he was, no matter how far away.
Bo and Blaze wanted to reveal our presence, but Olera and I preferred to keep the element of surprise as long as possible, especially since we were weaker than the Masena.
Capt. Rohrer and I returned to the bars to share our tale. Blaze talked with some Lotharians, while Bo and Van-tija returned to the academy. We soon heard that Ro Tan Bim offered a reward for the strange stone, and Bo and Blaze spread the rumor that Kal Kirad was thinking of giving the rare gem to Sohna.
I realized too late that Kal Kirad was in danger, and we raced back to the palace. Sure enough, he was gone, and Olera and Kor later found traces of Magongi, who may have teleported in or dropped down from the Dusar.
Bo and Rip followed Ro Tan Bim, who met with Lum Tar O. Blaze went to the harbor, where she met with Zarith Ness. A swift ship was preparing to leave, so “Phainara” warned the city guard, who detained and searched it.
They didn’t find Kal Kirad, and we knew that Zylor Bar’s henchmen were close. Now, we had to rescue not only Lucy, but also Kal….