Masks-616 #23 - "It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you"

Hail to the King!

“Your king as returned.”

The response from the hundreds of gorillas is … cheering, calling out, but … is it universal?

Sync - “Perfect timing! And Joey has a front row seat to meet the king, too.”

You May Wait Here in the Sitting Room, or Sit Here in the Waiting Room

Elder takes us away, into the side door at the base of the stairs. Into a building, mostly to get us out of sight? Then through a side archway, large room, receiving/sitting room. Guards take up a position at the archway. A few windows high up. Structured cushions to sit on. Motions. Food will be brought soon.
E - Apologies. No way to make some sort announcement.
J - Yeah, but king? Crazy excuse, hard to walk back.
E - You are. And you would have been recognized by some of them.
J - I’m pretty sure I’m not the king.
E - You’re not. You are.

Platter of food. Holds off conversation.

Tahi checking out the structure. Flick of reaction when she touches them. K notices. Tech is there and functional. Sort of like a fluorescent bulb just short of going out.

A - still has a detached arm. Wants to diagnose. Raises arm to get the Elder’s attention. I have some questions. What language do you hear us speaking.
E - (smirks, oh, you’re the clever one) English, East Coast. I actually understand your language. Trained. Most out there wouldn’t understand anything. Guards know more, as bestowed from the temple. Would understand if all were in the temple.
A - Universal Translator.
E - No. But it can be taught. Sigh. Japanese. It learns from us. What we learn, it can then share. Picked up the East Coast accent from Joseph here. We picked up his accent. Learned English from explorers. The gifts of the temple are communication, mostly.
A - If he’s the king, is there a queen?
E - No. Bad translation. He’s the sovereign. He’s the crown. He’s wearing the crown.

The body is the crown.
J - You mean, the king always has … this body?
E - Yes. Long ago, after the Elders left us, we had no king. and needed none. As dangers were faced, and new dangers came, and we called the temple, and … prayed, our leader at the time was given a gift. Their body was made … more. Greater than any one of us. Any ten of us. And that leader became our protector, guardian, and … and when their spirit faded and quailed, the temple took them back, and a new leader chosen, and that leader was given to the body. Or vice-versa. Odd. Thousands of years. They live longer … the spirit persists longer than a lifetime. The body does not fade or fail, as the temple renews it when the spirit passes from it. And the new spirit takes up residence. More a castle than a crown.
A - Hardware.
E - All of this would have been explained, but interrupted. Our last leader ruled for longer than any – she was mighty, wise, understood the temple better than even I have. And she told us the next ruler would come to the body would not be from our tribe. From outside. They would need the body as much as the body needed them. And then she passed, and it was … very easy to discount her, because years passed, and nobody came, and never found any in our ranks who suited – they were all rejected. And then we waited, beginning when I was an acolyte in the temple. And then what happened to you happened, and as close the prophecy as we’d been handed, and the temple agreed. So saved your life, and someone to carry the crown, man the battlements. But before we could explain anything … your people came and got you, and we don’t have passports. And that seemed to align with that prophecy, so we waited, and now here you are. And now we need to find out what you are going to do. (Takes a bite of mango, complete patient, silent waiting.)

J - What happened to my original body?
E - A great number of bullets. It’s been … preserved. Not repaired. The templed doesn’t do that naturally. We;re not immortal. It only has the one place to heal our ruler. But living things can be preserved. But I wouldn’t recommend … it’s not dead, but it’s not … pretty. We usulaly let the king decide after they’re brought in.
J - Not this second, but I’d like to see it.
E - (gestures acquiescence)

(Reaction to Tahi. Most of the gorillas seemed to recognize her style. The Elder looked at her with recognition of what she was, her purpose. Tahi had previously noted that the temple’s higher functions hadn’t been accessed since Joe’s encounter, and had not had a guardian for some time.)

J nibbles on a mango absently, looking into space.

E - We don’t usually live this close to the temple. It’s become more and more necessary since we lost the last leader. The Enemy we’ve dealt with in dribs and drabs over our history has started waking up. We don’t have the means to deal with them any more (glance at Joe). So apologies for the poor reception when you arrived.
A - Fluvis, the corrupting water spirit, right?
E - Probably. Don’t know the name.
A - Oh, he has lots of information. Chat with Kiln.

E - (looks like he was expecting it to be an invite to chat with Tahi) Sure. I am Grogan. Who are you?
K - I am Kiln. I come from the past.
E - (squints) You are one of the ancients?!
K - Yeah, from your perspective. But my people referred to those who first created the temple guardians as the Ancients.
(discussions of the enemies of the Ancients)
E - We don’t have stories about what happened to your people.
K - Yeah, when all those who are there to witness the events are gone.

E - (looks at Tahi) You are … a temple guardian, correct?
You ruled a place like this, somewhere.
T - (look of distaste at “ruled”) The temple was my assignment. It was destroyed.
A - I said I was story.
T - That was due to the creation of Fluvis. The temple was discovered. Your temple lost its guardian.
E - Many generations ago. They were a counselor, an advisor, for the lifetime of many leaders, but that was hundreds of generations ago. (to Joe) the body retains no memory, save for muscle and sinew. No knowledge, the spirit is gone. (Looking at Alex)
A - Pours water from a full cup to an empty cup.
E - Eventually, the water fades away. Again, child, it was a desperate moment.

J - Guess you did the right thing.
E - It was the prophecy. It was saving your life. It’s all true. Not all of it. I also wanted a puzzle solved. But you were a child. You have grown into it. Out there you were like our leader. That hurts, though, because I know who you are and who you were. But it was a poor thing to do.

M - Hand on Joe’s arm.) And yet, without your brave decision, we would not have Joey. To me, that is the more important answer.
E - Glad if good has come out of it. But giving the rest of the world Joe was not the intent. The enemy is growing, looking for our home. And we are dying here. One guard at a time.
M - Consider your king is back, and more than he would have been. This location is the site of something very important.
E - I like to think so.
M - I know so, the site of what will be a deciding factor int he future of the Earth. This I know. And because of that, we are here, not just to determine Joe;s questions, but to address the dangers facing our world, now and in the future.
E - (had been avoiding looking at Joe, but now is) This thing your seer knows. Do you believe it?
M - I trust anything she says.
E - Does that mean you’re going to stay?
J - I’m here for her danger. For your people’s danger. For all my team around this table … and in your city. I am here for whatever it takes.
E - (straightens up)
M - We are here.
E - We appreciate that, though the help any of you provide is appreciated, but unlooked for.

E - Will give you some time to yourselves to think. If you need questions answered, I am at your beck and call. Ask your guards. Your guards. Hope “hacking” is not what it osunds like, but you have free run of the place; please don’t break it. If you need anything, it is yours.
J - (to Alex) Please don’;t break anything.
A - I won’t. But Mette was wrong on the hot dogs in the caf. Hey, Tahi, let’s go hack the temple.
T - (surprised smile)
A - Hey, Kiln, you come along, too.
A - And, hey, maybe Roddy, too. (Gothwitch goes along.)

Raiders of the Lost Temple of Tomb

Tahi understands the temple’s systems like a biological structure.
K looks a little lost and uncertain.
A - I need you as a sanity check. To make sure I’m not forgetting something like [complex metaphor regarding a bathroom and a terrible fire.]
K - I had no idea that going to the bathroom was that important to you.
Tahi (Gandalfing them through Moria) (Things look different)

(Temple Guardian room, which back at her place was a pretty spartan open space with central spot with veins leading toward. Here … it’s cluttered, crowded, like all the temple contents have been moved in … everything repurposed. ) This isn’t … (walks around, looking at things, trying to figure it out.)
A - (Like all the computer equipment has been brought into the server room.)
T - This place has been completely repurposed to a different … it’s not a temple any more.
A - It’s been hacked. I just want to get the defensive systems online.
R - I got this. STRAIGHT. UP. CREEPIN.

T - How can I get up high to look over this.
A - Flying drones.
GW - I can get her up in the air.
R - I can parkour. (Carries her up)

It’s all out of place!
A is going to start building a network architecture diagram.
R is asking questions about cool-looking stuff.
T is being driven nuts by everything being in the wrong place.

R - SUC ==> 8 +TEAM --> 10
K helps translate from Tahi’s references to modernish languages … also, someone who can jury rig stuff in a battlefield.
Ultimately, T makes heads/tails of central core thing. Stuff sort of clustered around the … regeneration pod.

A - “Is there a server array?”
R - “Hey, what’s that cool thing full of scrolls?”
T - “The Library of They Whose Wisdom Is Found In Motion”
K - “Oh, we called that the Moving Library … that’s, um, kind of like that box in the computer lab you said was full of spinning platters, which sounded like food, but maybe that’s about knowledge …?”
A - “Server array, check!”

How is it teaching languages and then passing it on? They’ve cannibalized the entire temple – has to have been temple guardian – and started to assemble it, to make it do other, more relevant, useful stuff. Likes rings of the tree … Guardian in the center, knowledge in a ring around that, sensing / storage, concealing, etc. Passively maintain the integrity of the tribe, provide a safe place, and use them to protect the temple by making the tribe more and better – language, etc.

A Guardian Expert System. Passively acting. Everything runs, unmonitored. Sophisticated behavior from simple components. Passive magic rock Rube Goldberg ET Speak-n-Spell.

Once T sees it, she gets it, and it is both brilliant and inspired and utterly and seriously W.T.F?! Also a bit squickish and gross. “The guardian adopted this tribe, and considered them worth protecting.”

The Holy Guestbook that would be in front of the temple. Part of the entryway of the temple. Would note all who came and went, noted purpose, stored it. … And now it’s being used as an expansive data storage setup. So as info and data gathered by tribe and visitors and so forth, it all goes in there. Sentry reports from the Watching Stones. Etc. So info out to the person in the pod. Or to the gorillas in the temple.

A sends Roddy and Gothwitch off to find a path to the surface with some solar panels and batteries to recharge for them.

Kiln: Center of this is regeneration pod. Concentric rings of … increased needs that the guardian / central node. A series of heartfelt requests over generations. Rippling outward, as more and more has to be torn out of the rest of the temple and rebuilt. The prayers of a protector, and the responses by the temple guardian, the compromises the guardian makes for the protector they, themselves, brought into being. So whatever ended the guardian … was in the outermost ring.
K sees this, because they are a protector. What would I have pleaded for?
And … tech here shows it can be rebuilt. Does that mean they can go back to their own time?

Understand, Monkey Boy?

J - I don’t know what to do. No, I know what to do. I’m just afraid of where this is going to take me.
M - Afraid of … losing yourself.
J - I don’t have a self. Afraid of what I’ll have to do to protect these people.
[J … The gorillas are … my RIVAL. The challenge, the gadfly, the thing I resent but must tie into and defend …]

M - (This is where J left the path of the hero … is that because he stays here and does this?) (Concerned that J doesn’t feel like he’s anchored in himself. Well I guess this is what I’m supposed to do. Vs. what is Joe, and what is best for him, be true to yourself without subsuming this. Needs to see his individual worth, not to let others needs to subsume him. )

J - I just want to go out and smash Fluvis and the bugs and whatever. But after that, what do I do? How do I protect them going on? How do I protect you … you guys?

… 2 Hold for Mette (Vuln)

M - [Diff between what thought they would be and what they are.] When I first met you, I think, like others, I just saw your outer shell, and not your inner self, who is Joe. You may say lll you like you don’t know who you are, but I do. And I’ve never told you this, but in the future, from records, you are a person in our time right here who has great potential, both to be a solution, or a missing part from a solution. Knowing you as I do, and knowing the inner Joe, I think you will always be part of the solution. What is the future you want? If it is, I will fight for you to have it.

J - I want to be part of a solution. Of course. To give this life, whatever it is, meaning. And … that you … are willing to fight … I … want that.

And he kisses her.

And, of course, there’s a drone taking video.

So, where is everyone?

Roddy - Unleash Powers (out of the complex to the surface) ==> 7 … Perfect timing between the guards and passersby.
Temporary, then very grumpy gorillas come and get him (to GW mortification).
GW - How long did you think y90u didn’t have powers until you had powers?
R - I have powers?
GW - Has there ever been too much for you to keep track of?
R - Explosion in S America.
GW - Cool. What you do is cool. I will deny I ever said that – [and they have to move]

Kiln – What is that last circle, at the end of the guardian, meant to do? Going down to investigate.

Alex – Looking for root access to the temple.

Heading to the center of the complex, the pod and the storage.

Get a Little Closer

M - Closer to the team (Joe) - +Danger, -Savior
J - Closer to the team (M) - +Mundane, -Superior
K - Closer to the team (A) - +Adaptability, -Freak
A - Closer to the team (K) - +Freak, -Danger
R - Closer to the team (A) - +Superior, -Danger

Alex’s complex metaphor:

1 Like

'Twas the game before Christmas, and all through the Forum,
Not a gamer was posting. It was all pretty boring.

(To be fair, a late posting would fill us with dread,
Especially in the General Scheduling Thread.)

In the game, Joe and Mette were in the parlor, lip-smacking,
While Alex was in the temple, magitech hacking.

Roddy crept down from the surface with care …
… Escorted by gorillas who thought him lacking hair.

But that let him garner some compliments from Gothwitch.
Which, to be honest, was really a big switch.

Kiln was pacing and stalking, round circles of ruin,
The damage to the temple would take more than gluin’.

So, sure, there’s still romance and kissing to move us,
But enough of the icky stuff – time to throw down with Fluvis!