Amnesty – Episode 4/Transcript

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Transcript by the lovely volunteers at TAZscripts.

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Griffin: Previously, on The Adventure Zone…

Mama: Where these gates appear on Earth so do the, we call ‘em, Abominations.

Vincent: I’m just as eager to avoid a war between our worlds as the next Sylph, so you gotta promise me Duck, you gotta forget this night ever happened.

Mama: We’ve kept this gate a secret for—

Griffin: And Ned, you can see the gate right in front of you, and you can see it sort of pressed into the fender of your Continental.

Ned: Shit.

Griffin: The three of you survey this nightmare in an instant, and then it charges.

Travis: Aubrey grabs the lantern from Duck and throws it at the creature's face.

Griffin: As this thing picks up the scent of a bunch of different animals, you see it whip its head around and look toward the direction of the jug, and there's a peal of thunder overhead, and then the skies open up and it douses the flames that were spreading across the beast, which looks up at the sky and then back down at the three of you.

[Theme music (The Adventure Zone: Amnesty Theme by Griffin McElroy) plays]


[Faint rain ambiance]

Griffin: So the rain is coming down in sheets, nearly to the point where the three of you are having trouble seeing this beast that is right in front of you. You see a faint plume of steam rising off of it where that fire that was spreading across its patchwork pelt was doused, and through that steam, the three of you faintly see another shape behind the monster, and actually, as you look around, you notice that these shapes are surrounding you at the edge of the clearing. It's more woodland creatures, all seemingly possessed in the same way that you saw, Ned, in that bobcat. You count eight animals in total surrounding—

Travis: [imitating The Count] “Eight! Eight animals!”

Justin: That's a classic bit of course, long time listeners know any time there's a number on the show, we kind of do that bit.

Griffin: Which makes it tricky everytime we roll dice, or like every other sentence. There's like a smaller black bear prowling towards you, there's a couple other bobcats, there's a deer, and just a handful of other animals all slowly walking in your direction beckoned by the pained roars of that beast that you were just fighting, and as they're approaching, a light flashes from the archway, and suddenly, there's Barclay and Mama, and without a second of hesitation, Mama retrieves her sawed off shotgun from her duster and shoots two shells into the side of the big beast, who surprisingly doesn't look terribly damaged by the gunfire, but kind of roars reflexively and turns toward Mama. But then there's another light, this time in the distance deeper in the woods. There's another vehicle hastening towards your location, and sensing danger, the beast roars again, and those animals that were surrounding you spring toward it, and in kind of grisly display, they seem to leap into the beast, who absorbs them into its form before leering one last time in your party's direction and then dashes away into the woods. And just mere seconds after the monster disappears, that vehicle that you heard rolls to a stop at the edge of the clearing and Duck, you recognise it as a response vehicle from the Monongahela National Forest Service, and real quickly like before anything else happens, Mama says under her breath:

Mama: Nobody say a word about this stuff. Please, I’m begging you.

Griffin: And from out of the forest wagon, steps Ranger Juno Devine, your coworker, Duck.

Travis: And owner of the coolest name in town.

Griffin: She deploys an umbrella and jogs toward you, and she shouts:

Juno: Ranger Newton, what the heck's going on, buddy? Why'd you call me in?

Travis: Now Griffin, is it a magical umbrella?

Griffin: [amused] No, it's just a reg— I mean all umbrellas are magical if you think about the sort of incredible purpose they serve. I want to be clear that this is a result of you calling in somebody on your radio as you were running through the woods. This is sort of a reaction to the action that you took.

Duck: Well hey Juno, thanks for coming out so quick. You know, honestly, stories don't come much sillier than this, but we had a sorta, I guess you could say, bear attack, and you know me, gets late at night, I get a little jumpy, and I thought it was something a little bit worse than that. I was honestly as fearful for the animal itself as my own sort of safety, you know, animal— dealing with animals is always a tricky business, so I called you in, but I guess, you know, in hindsight, maybe I overreacted a little bit.

Juno: Well, you're pursued by a black bear? That doesn't sound really like their MO.

Duck: Juno, that's what spooked me about the whole thing, it was very aggressive, I mean you do not see that in the species, especially around these parts, because there’s so many people, you know, they tend to get, uh, almost a little too comfortable with humans. So I just wasn't used to the behavior, and I think that's kind of what got me a little jumpy if I'm being honest.

Griffin: She turns sorta towards everybody else, and she's like:

Juno: So what are y'all doing here? Did you antagonise this bear or somethin’? Did y’all— Were y'all tryin’ to do a fun Winnie the Pooh joke that turned horrible? What-what's the story, what are y'all doin out here?

Aubrey: We were just practicing, um, community theater. Do you know A Midsummer Night's Dream?

Juno: Yeah, I'm familiar with the works of Bill.

Aubrey: Yeah, we were just working to get into the character of the mechanicals, out in the woods practicing, you know, basic stuff.

Juno: So that's great if it weren't raining cats and dogs right now, I might ask if I could sit in and watch, that's one of my favorites, I like—

Aubrey: Well, you know, it started raining and we were about to head in, and that's when Ranger—Newton, was it?—came through, and I think the bear saw all the people here and got a little spooked and ran right back into the woods.

Duck: Yeah, that's literally the only time anyone's ever been helped by community theater. [Griffin laughs] It was a miracle, honestly, and I was so relieved that I could be here for this momentous occasion.

Ned: Of course that's why that fursuit over there hanging out of the back of the trunk of my car, because I'm a character actor, and I believe in, you know, embracing all aspects of it.

Griffin: She notices the car, but obviously does not see the archway, and I think the damage to the car is like surface level enough that it doesn't even register that it ran into, something, and Juno says:

Juno: Yeah, you know, I might have to write you up for this, you're really supposed to stick to the roads and the trails. You shouldn't really be driving your car through the woods, especially not in like a four-wheel drive vehicle, like… what is that, a Continental?

Ned: Lincoln Continental, yes, Lincoln Continental Mark 3, I hope you like it.

Juno: Yeah it's great. Well Ranger Newton, we should probably head back and write this up. Any y'all want a ride back to Kepler? Are y'all all right?

Ned: Um, I can drive, my car's okay. I think it's drivable and I'll be very careful, I'll just retrace my path so that I don't tear up any more of the woodland beauty.

Travis: Aubrey looks to Mama for kind of a lead here.

Griffin: Yeah, Mama says:

Mama: You know, I think we're probably just gonna walk back to the lodge, it's pretty close. I need to work on my lines for the, um, part, the part I'm playing in the play.

Aubrey: She's Peter Quince in the play.

Mama: Yes, that's me, we're having a lot of fun with it, so I'll head back. Aubrey we still have a room ready for you if you want to come with me.

Aubrey: Sounds great.

Griffin: And you all start to walk off in the other direction. Duck are you going with Juno back to the station, or what's your plan?

Justin: Yeah, you know what, I can't think of a good reason why I would go with Ned, as much as that probably seems like it would advance the story [Justin and Griffin laugh] a little better than me—

Clint: We're friends!

Justin: —departing from the three of them.

Griffin: Alright, you all start to— Juno goes back in her car, and you see her turn on the light inside her car and start writing some stuff down in a notepad, taking some notes about this bear attack, there's some paperwork to do. And as everybody else starts walking towards the edge of the clearing, and Ned you get in your car and it starts, and Mama turns towards everybody and she says:

Mama: If y'all wouldn't mind, could you swing by the lodge tomorrow around noon? Barclay'll cook you up some lunch. I got something I need to pitch you all.

Duck: Yeah, that's fine.

Aubrey: I'll be there anyways, so like, yeah?

Mama: Ok, I was mostly talking to the other two, [Aubrey: Oh!] but…

Griffin: And with that, you all start making your way back through the forest towards town, and the storm kind of dissipates just as quickly as it appears, and you all sort of make your way back through the forest with the strange events of this evening sort of rattling around your heads. And, we'll jump forward now, and Aubrey, you've settled into your room in Amnesty Lodge for the evening, and just as Mama promised, the accommodations are pretty nice. There's a soft queen sized bed, and next to it, there's a small round cushion where Dr. Bonkers is already fast asleep, and he's got a little bowl of diced carrots right in front of him, which we assume—

Travis: Now here’s the thing, Griffin, I wanna say, I've spoken with some people recently, carrots are a good treat for rabbits, like cake, [Griffin: Ohh!] but not a meal, you wouldn't feed— there's a lot of sugar in carrots.

Griffin: Interesting, so what's the rabbit eats?

Travis: That I don't know, maybe pellet [Clint laughs] let's assume that there's like rabbit food that Aubrey has.

Griffin: Yeah, all right, there's some rabbit food dished out in the bowl.

Travis: I didn't research that far, just enough to say like, "Don't just straight up [crosstalk] feed them carrots all the time.”

Griffin: [crosstalk] Give them carrots all the time. Yeah, also turns orange, but the eyesight gets almost too good actually.

Travis: So terrifyingly good.

Griffin: So you assume that Dani did a pretty great job rabbit-sitting here. And so you're in this room, and you've kicked off your boots, and you're preparing to settle in, and there's a soft knock at the door, and Mama pokes her head in, and she says:

Mama: Hey, sorry to bother you, I just— I need to ask you something. Can you think of anything, anything at all from your past that seems strange, like the way the things you saw tonight were strange? Like some sort of weird portal in your basement? [crosstalk] Or a visit from a sorcerer or somethin?

Aubrey: [crosstalk] Yeah, yeah, now that you mention it, there was that time when Hell poured into my b— what the fuck are you [slightly laughing] talking about? No!

Mama: No, I know, listen, I know this is— what is happening here is uncommon, but you have some sort of connection to all of this already, and I'm just tryin to figure out what that is, Aubrey. So any weird runes etched in stone in your backyard in the house you grew up in? Any— just do me a favor and think about it, and if there's nothing, that's fine, I'm trying to make everything make sense.

Aubrey: Hm, no, I-I, um, n— I mean listen, my family, it's about as boring as can be, I mean it's one of those “keep this between us, okay?” Old money, but the money's not there anymore, but the name, old money history, that kind of thing. But it's about as bland as bland can be— I mean that's on my mom's side, but I mean my dad— my dad is not that, and so when he and my mom married, we kind of fell out of touch with the family, and then I fell out of touch with my parents, and so like not that I remember, but I don't really know that much about my family past my mom and dad.

Mama: There's gotta be a source for this stuff, I just, I'm sorry for grillin' you, I'm just trying to figure out what it is.

Aubrey: [amused] Grillin'? Ah-ah, like fire?

Mama: I mean, there's probably gonna be a lot of that from now on, huh?

Aubrey: Yeah! A lot of me acknowledging that it might be a pun.

Mama: I guess— I guess if you can't think of anything, that's fine, it's just that, I want you to rack your brain, if there's something in your past, something you ever came in contact with that had something that you couldn't quite explain.

Aubrey: Well, um, there was, well, there was the necklace.

Mama: Alright, you had a cool necklace? What was— what was that about?

Aubrey: Um, I mean, it's just kind of the one thing my mom took with her when she fell out with the family, the Flamebright Pendant, and—

Mama: Now Aubrey, it's called the Flamebright Pendant, and you didn't think that that was germane?

Aubrey: Well I- right now, right now, in this se— it's something, you know, I heard so much in my— but I don't have it, I’m not wearing it, it's gone.

Mama: Where'd it go?

Aubrey: Stolen.

Mama: Well ain't that just peachy.

Aubrey: Yeah, yeah, that was the shit, so like I didn't think about it, it's not like I'm wearing it, it's not like it's warm against my skin as I cast my bewitching magicks.

Mama: Yeah, that's fine and everything. All right. I'll try to find out what I can about it, you get some sleep. I got a project I'm gonna need some help with tomorrow.

Aubrey: Like crafting?

Mama: Somethin’ like that.

Griffin: And she slips back out the door. Ned, you pull your car, just a little bit worse for wear, in front of the Cryptonomica, and you see a light inside still on, and as you head in, you see Kirby,

Justin: [singing] There's a light on, over at the—

Griffin: You see Kirby with a mop and a bucket cleaning up a puddle on the floor near one of the displays, and as the bell above the doors rings as you enter, he looks up at you, and then back down at his work and he says:

Kirby: Roof's leaking again. How'd it go out there?

Ned: Um, not entirely as expected, but I would have to say the views of monsters was, um, the best, ever. [Justin snorts] I hope I actually got some— some good footage.

Kirby: It's late, we don't have to worry about that tonight.

Griffin: And he puts the mop in the bucket and starts to wheel it away, and just as he does so, another trickle of water drips down at a different spot in the room, and Kirby kind of sighs, and he walks over to it and he puts the bucket underneath it to catch the water, and he says:

Kirby: Ned, I don't wanna sound ungrateful, but I gotta ask, why on God's green earth did you decide to open this tourist trap here in the middle of nowhere?

Ned: Um, well, I didn't really open it, Kirby, I— I kind of, um, found it? [sighs] You see, I was, I got in a little bit of trouble in my not-so-shiny past, and made a friend. And that friend said perhaps I would want to avoid my trouble by coming here to this lovely community, and kind of- taking a prolonged vacation from my trouble, and this was actually her establishment. I, of course, I contributed some, I jazzed it up some, brought a little joie de vivre to it, a little flair so to speak—

Kirby: As you bring to everything.

Griffin: He kind of chuckles.

Ned: And so um, she— she went away, and now I'm stuck with it, and stuck with the mortgage, and apparently stuck with an eviction notice, and stuck, just stuck.

Griffin: He kind of sighs, and sets the mop down in the corner with the bucket still catching water in the middle of the room and he says:

Kirby: Yeah, I know that feeling.

Griffin: And he collects the like dozen or so empty cans of RC Cola up off his desks and he drops them in a recycling bin and he picks up his old Macbook and he walks towards the door and he says:

Kirby: I'll see you tomorrow, Ned.

Ned: See you too, Kirby. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll uh— we've got what, like 30 days left before we're evicted?

Griffin: I think you have one week is what we established, six days.

Ned: Well, I'll tell you what, in that six days, I'll contact the landlord and tell him he can fix the damn roof, and at least maybe we won't get rained on in seven days. So wait a minute, I'm writing a note to myself on a post-it. [to himself] Call Mr. Garfield-

Griffin: No, come on, you don't get the— you don't get to wield the power of the Garfield insert. [Clint laughs] He says:

Kirby: I'm not worried about it, Ned, you've always been pretty resourceful.

Griffin: And with the ring of the bell, Kirby walks out the door. Duck, you are, uh, you’ve finished your work for the evening, your shift is over, and you’re back at your, your place in Kepler. What— what’s your place, where do you live in Kepler?

Justin: I have a—

Travis: Bungalow.

Justin: Apartment. Yeah. But it’s a nice apartment.

Griffin: Ok. One bedroom? Studio?

Justin: It’s like— Uh, two bedrooms. One is sort of—

Griffin: Whoa!

Justin: I know! One’s a bedroom, and then I have an office where I, uh, mainly do my, uh, ship building, my model ships—

Griffin: Hell yeah!

Justin: And, uh, that’s kind of all that happens in the office, really. It’s kind of where I go to like unwind, um, but— and then I’ve got a bunch of, you know, exotic animal heads from all my big game hunting—

Griffin: [crosstalk] Jesus, no. No, no.

Justin: [crosstalk] That’s right, twist! What a twist! [Clint laughing] No one saw this coming!

Griffin: Veto, blackball.

Justin: No, I have a lot of paintings of wildlife put up around the— the house, some commendations from the park service for distinguished service, that kind of thing. And— you know, it’s a nice place. It’s not— it’s not sad, it’s nice.

Griffin: Good. Okay, so you’re in your bathroom brushing your teeth and you finish up and take a look—

Justin: If someone has to say their apartment is not sad, it probably is, right?

[Travis and Clint laughing]

Griffin: Uh, you finish up brushing and you take a look in the bathroom mirror and— and you turn, and you shut out the light, and you close the bathroom door behind you, and as you enter your bedroom, there she is again. That vision, that faint blue silhouette of the woman who talked to you in the woods earlier tonight. And she’s— she’s standing still between you and the bed, and she’s not really moving.

Justin: [sighs] Ditto, would I know this thing’s name from, like, previous encounters, or whatever?

Griffin: Yeah, I think we should set that up, just because it’s getting to the point where just referring to it as “the vision” is kind of strange, also a little confusing because people might think I’m talking about the comic book hero—

Travis: And you are, that’s the thing!

Griffin: And you are, that’s the twist. No, it’s, uh, I think you used to have a lot more contact with her when you were younger, and so just to, like, be cordial in the way that Duck is cordial, you wanted to know her name, and back then, she introduced herself as Minerva.

Justin: Minerva. Okay.

Griffin: Um, but she’s just kind of standing in front of you, not really moving, and doesn’t really seem to acknowledge you as you enter the room.

Clint: Who you gonna call?

Griffin: Well don’t bust— don’t bust Minerva, that’s—

Justin: No, I’m not gonna do that.

Duck: Well… god. Hey, Minerva.

Justin: And I walk through her towards bed.

[Clint laughing]

Griffin: Um, you do that and you just phase right through her and head to bed. And as you do, she doesn’t respond. Um, she doesn’t respond with speech, and she doesn’t seem to be, like, moving. She looks actually like, frozen in place. Uh, she has like one of her arms, like, half-raised, the other one’s kind of at her side and she’s just frozen and static. And as you sort of, like, realise that she’s not, uh, responding at all, you maybe get a little bit confused. And as you look at her standing perfectly still in the center of your room, you do start to hear something. [music (All Night Long by Lobo Loco) begins playing] You hear music coming from Minerva. Old, like, kind of tinny, distorted music coming from her form, and it’s like a sad and beautiful acoustic blues tune? One that you don’t really recognise, but the music is moving and for a minute or so, it’s all you hear, just reverberating around your bedroom, before, in the blink of an eye, Minerva fades away.


[guitar fades out, new song fades in]


Griffin: So it’s tomorrow at noon, and the three of you, at Mama’s behest, have gathered in the lobby of the Amnesty Lodge. Aubrey, you stayed the night here and Ned, you said you’ve been here before, but Duck, the scene here is so unbelievably quaint as you enter. The windows are all— uh, around the lobby are all half open, letting in a nice breeze, and you see Barclay through the kitchen window working over a large pot with a hairnet on, and the smell coming from the kitchen is incredible. Um, there’s a few guests in the lobby just enjoying the day. Jake Cool-Ice is sitting with his snowboard on a table, just meticulously waxing it—

Travis: Have we established what kind of creature Jake Cool-Ice is when he’s at home?

Griffin: Uh, no, but we’ll get to it. They—

Travis: Oh, I can’t wait to find out.

Griffin: They’re all— they’re also in human form right now. There is a young woman sitting at a piano just jotting down something on some sheet music. Dani is in the corner with a large sketchpad in her lap, doing some kind of charcoal drawing. And everybody here just seems so at ease. And Mama comes into the lobby and greets the three of you and says:

Mama: Uh, Duck, Ned, thank you for coming, and Aubrey, I guess, thanks for staying. I— I have something grave I need to discuss with you in my office, and— oh, right, I promised you some food. D’jy’all eat yet?

Aubrey: No?

Travis: Griffin, have we eaten yet? Should we roll to see if we ate?

Griffin: Yeah, roll the hunger dice, that’s a special dice that I mailed each of you. It’s a two-sided dice.

Travis: I got a 9?

Duck: I’m starvin’, thank you.

Ned: Me too.

Griffin: Ok. And Barclay kinda hears you say that you’re starving and he nods from the kitchen, and Mama smiles and leads the three of you into her office, down one of those hallways off the lobby. And her office is a mess. There’s like— there’s like five bookcases, all hand-crafted, of different shapes and materials, all loaded with these big, like, historical tomes and books on folklore for various regions. There’s a couch against one wall that is just covered with maps, mostly of the Monongahela Forest. Her desk is similarly covered with books and maps, and a ledger filled with paperwork for the lodge that’s just sort of sandwiched between the pages of the ledger, and her desk also has a few empty mugs on it. And at the center of her office is a large round table, also hand-crafted by the look of it, with several chairs around it. And as you all walk into the room, Mama enters behind you and she locks the door behind her and she says:

Mama: So, how was everyone’s night?

Aubrey: It was fine.

Duck: Uh, a little shitty, if I’m being honest.

Ned: I realised this is not a nightmare when I woke up again, so... I had a fitful night’s sleep.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: Yeah, it’s not a nightmare. There’s, um, there’s a lot going on we should probably sort of—

Aubrey: I slept great!

Mama: Well that’s— yeah, I was hoping you would.

Aubrey: Full six hours.

Mama: That’s, uh, I mean. People say they recommend eight, but I get by on, like, four, but you know I’m spinning a lot of plates. Um, let’s—

Ned: Mama— Mama, what’s your secret? What is your secret, Mama?

Justin: Let’s take a deep dive into your sleep patterns.

Ned: What is your secret, Mama?

Mama: I just drink a lot of water during the day, and it gets—

Ned: No, I mean, here we are, let’s face it, Kepler, not exactly the, uh, you know, the gay Paris (said with the French pronunciation, Pah-ree) of the ski set, and I haven’t seen three customers in three months, and yet your lobby out there is packed! You’ve got people all over the place, they’re writing music and they’re waxing their skateboards, and everything else [Travis: With their hula hoops and their rock music!] What is your secret? Are you online, [others laugh] do you have some kind of deal with Yelp? What is the— what is your secret?

Griffin: She says, um,

Mama: Yeah, I opened up a— I got someone to open up a Yelp page for me a couple years back, [Ned: Ah, I knew it] but that’s, um, that’s not really where most of my… industry lies. We should, um—

Duck: More TripAdvisor? [Ned: Oohh.] Yeah, I heard they’re coming up in the ranks.

Ned: Retirees? Are they bus people?

Griffin: She says,

Mama: Why don’t you— why don’t y’all pull up a seat, and I can kinda get y’all on the same page.

Griffin: So you all sit around this, this table in the center of Mama’s office, and she catches everyone up on what she told Aubrey during the last evening about Sylvane, and the Sylphs and the Lodge, and the— the arch in the woods that these abominations cross over from into our world. Duck, do you tell everybody about sort of your experience in Sylvane that night?

Justin: No.

Griffin: Okay.

Justin: I promised I wouldn’t.

Griffin: Okay, yeah, sure. Absolutely.

Travis: Duck knows how to keep his lips shut.

Griffin: Cool. Um, so Mama says,

Mama: All right. And so— so these Abominations, the— what you’ve got to understand is that the Sylphs—

Aubrey: Seems mean.

Mama: Well—

Duck: It is a little judgey.

Mama: I’m not talking about— I’m not talking about everybody that comes over from—

Aubrey: No, I know, but I mean… you know, like, I don’t know, it just seems mean. “Abomination?” Ugh.

Mama: I mean, they— that was their term for them, not ours, but I mean, in their defense, they do pretty abominable shit. Um—

Aubrey: Yeah, but I mean, what is— what is social, you know—

Mama: Ok. What would you prefer to call these [crosstalk] big, deadly monsters?

Aubrey: [crosstalk] Nom-noms.

Mama: No, we’re not gonna call them nom-noms.

Ned: Bom-boms!

Aubrey: Bom-boms?

Duck: Goombas?

Ned: Goombas!

Duck: No, Abomination fits, I got my butt kicked by one last night, [crosstalk] it’s on the level.

Aubrey: [crosstalk] Ok, but in my head, I’m gonna say bom-boms.

Duck: Ok, just so long as you don’t vocalize it—

Aubrey: I can’t promise that.

Griffin: Uh, she says,

Mama: What you’ve gotta understand about these— about the “bom-boms” is that the Syl—

Aubrey: Thank you!

Duck: No, now, don’t—

Mama: Ok, the Abominations—

Duck: I can’t push back by myself.

Mama: What you’ve gotta understand about these… things, is that the Sylphs— they don’t claim credit for them, they swear up and down they don’t know where they’re coming from. They— they don’t originate in their world, despite the fact that they come through the gate into ours. But wherever they come from, the fact remains that they show up at our door, and they try to make a mess of things. And obviously that’s not gonna happen.

Aubrey: Can I ask you a question, Mama? In your experience with the— things?

Mama: Yes.

Aubrey: Is it just, like, they come in and they are chaotic, or are— are they trying— do they want something?

Mama: I mean, that’s what makes it a li’l bit tricky, is that they— they have sort of different impulses. They got different, um, different instincts. And figuring those out is sort of part of the process, but it’s an important thing to do, cause we can’t let the folks of this fine town live in fear of some big monsters lookin’ to do them harm, and Sylvane doesn’t want that either — some monster comes over here and makes headlines, and some far less understanding, far less patient folks are gonna make a beeline to Sylvane and rain hellfire down on ‘em in return, and that’s a war that neither of our worlds can afford. So— so by our estimate, gate showed up in Kepler back in ‘88, and quickly— some of us realised what the deal was, what we were up against, why we had to keep it a secret, and I was one of those folks what had that realization, and I’ve been fighting them ever since.

Now these days it’s just me and Barclay doing the fight, and some of the guests here, they have— they got some idea of the score, but our numbers have dwindled and for obvious reasons, it’s a tough gig to hire for. The repercussions of bringing someone on with loose lips would be… and I’m not being hyperbolic here, it would be apocalyptic. But y’all know the truth now, and by my counting you’ve kept it to yourself for like 12 hours, and that ain’t nothing, so. Yeah, I’m asking for your help to defend this town and this world and Sylvane.

Griffin: And she goes to her desk and opens up a drawer and she pulls something out and walks over to the three of you and places this object that she retrieved down in front of you, and you see, sitting on this hand crafted table, is a circular patch, a sew-in patch, crafted with shimmering Sylvan wool, depicting a tall, green pine tree standing in front of a sunset-hued gradient, with a sort of decidedly retro, like, ’70s, ’80s graphic design aesthetic. And when you look back up at Mama, she pulls back the lapel of her duster, and you see that same patch sewn into the inside of her duster. [music fades in] And she says,

Mama: I’m asking you three to join the Pine Guard.


[Commercial Break]


Mama: I’m asking you three to join the Pine Guard. [Justin snorts] ...I know it kinda sounds like a brand of cleaning product.

Aubrey: Pine-Sol!

Mama: Yeah, it’s a different— it’s a different thing. I mean, we’re not too worried about copyright infringement, because, um, you know, this is not something that we’re going to go around talking about. There’s not going to be, like, t-shirts and merch for the Pine Guard.

Griffin: There will definitely, definitely be merch for the t-shirts and the badges of the Pine Guard, [Clint: Oh, okay.] you can find it on our online store.

Aubrey: Is the badge scratch and sniff?

Mama: Um, I mean, it can be if you spray it with some sort of thing or rub it up against [Aubrey: Excellent.] a car air freshener or something. Listen, I know— I know this is heavy, but y’all don’t need to decide right now, but I think—

Aubrey: I’m in!

Mama: Just like that?

Aubrey: Yep!

Ned: Is there health insurance?

Griffin: She says,

Mama: There’s the opposite of health insurance. There’s health endangerment, if anything [someone snorts], but, listen, we’ve reached a point now where it’s— it’s all hands on deck. I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like that beast in the woods. These—

Aubrey: You’ve been doing this since you were 5?

Mama: What?

Aubrey: ‘Cause— it’s, like, complime— you look so young!

Mama: Oh, my gosh. Okay, Aubrey. Thank you.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: These— these things in the— in the woods, they’re getting stronger for whatever reason. And y’all got ambushed last night, and you held your ground. And so I truly believe with a bit more prep work, you’re gonna tear that thing down.

Griffin: And with that, Barclay enters the room and he’s got a tray with, um, some bowls of radish stew, which he places in front of each of you and then, um, you see him take out that paper that Dani was sketching on out in the lobby, which he places on the center of the table, and you see a detailed drawing of that beast in the woods. And Mama says,

Mama: This office is the ready room for the Pine Guard now. We figure out what the— what the beast is capable— what the Abomination’s capable of, what it’s weak against, what kind of upper hand we can hope to gain on it before we go hunting, and gang, we gotta go tonight. These things, they— they show up every couple months, like, about three nights before the full moon, and then we got one advantage— just one advantage— for the next week, they gotta stay within a mile or so radius around the gate. But we lose that window, we lose that week, and they can go wherever they want, and if that happens, well, word and, you know, death and destruction starts to get around. So the window’s almost closed, so it’s— it’s best we get started right now, so—

Travis: Aubrey looks over at the map.

Aubrey: How big is the mon— Monan— Monangaliah— For—

Mama: Monongahela.

Aubrey: What is it?

Mama: It’s trick— Monongahela. I know, it’s tricky.

Aubrey: Ok. How big is that compared to where the gate is, and where Kepler is? Is that mile— do we need to worry about Kepler?

Mama: I mean, yeah, Kepler’s in the radius. I’ve had to very discreetly dispatch some stuff here in Kepler. Lot of the woods is in it, the mountain, Mount Kepler’s obviously in it, there’s a lot of places that we can go hunting. It’s not a, you know, it’s not a small area.

Duck: If you’re asking how big the forest, that’s 1,433— 39 square miles.

Mama: Yeah, it’s a big-ass forest.

Duck: It’s a big forest.

Mama: It’s a good forest. It’s got Kepler in it, it’s got a bunch of stuff in it. It’s not a small space to hunt them down, and that’s why— that is what we do. We hunt. It’s not like these things are gonna wait for us, we gotta figure out what they want, how we can find ‘em, and once we do find ‘em, what we can do to take ‘em out.

Ned: I need something clarified for me. So you’re telling me that all of these bom-boms [Aubrey: Thank you.] that have been wandering through these woods [Duck: I quit.] for decades have not really been the Goat-boys and the Moth-dudes and the Bigfeets, and the Yahoos, but have been these creatures that came from the other place? [crosstalk] Is that what you’re telling me?

Mama: [crosstalk] Yeah, I mean— Well, I mean, the Sylphs who come from Sylvane, they’re good folks. This is— that’s not who I’m talking about, and I want to make that entirely clear. Fuck, Barclay’s Bigfoot, you ain’t never seen him going around, you know, trashing a, trashing a parking lot—

Aubrey: Barclay’s Bigfoot?!

Griffin: Barclay kind of sighs, and says,

Barclay: Yeah, I’m, uh, I am… Mr. Bigfoot.

Aubrey: Hell yeah, dude! You’re famous as shit!

Barclay: Yeah, it’s regrettable. I’ve been irresponsible, I guess, in the past, but—

Ned: And you’ve traveled a lot! Washington—

Barclay: Yeah, I get around.

Griffin: Um, Mama says,

Mama: That’s— that’s not what we’re facing here. These things, they ain’t Sylphs, whatever they are.

Ned: I wanna know how many of them are— are we talking about here?

Mama: I mean, if we do our job right, there’s only one at a time, it shows up every couple months. Now, I know you—

Ned: I saw nine or ten!

Mama: Yeah, and here’s the thing: I think that’s all part of the same Abomination.

Ned: The same booger.

Mama: What else do we know about this thing?

Griffin: I want to set up that this is, like, the part where we are going to, like, discuss around the table, like, what you know about the monster. This is the part of the— and this is kind of unique to this game, is that, like, a lot of the time, I’m not going to set up the final battle, you all are? Using what you have learned about this monster. So this is the part of the game where you all are going to kind of, like, formulate the battle plan and figure out, like, what this last scene is going to look like, and what you’re gonna do. And this part of the game, I want to be clear, is incredibly vital, because the monsters that I am able to create in this game are so dangerous, and if you are not, like, as tactical and thoughtful about it as is possible, things can go, like, very very bad. So that’s— that’s kind of what we’re doing here.

Justin: Well, before we— before we get into that, Duck, uh, sort of almost— I think mid-sentence, not one of his, somebody else’s, stands up from the table and says,

Duck: Listen. This has been… well, I was going to say “fun,” but that would be inaccurate, obviously. But, uh, I— I can’t do this with y’all. I think it’s real neat what you all are doing, it seems like good work, but, uh, you’re gonna have to count me out of this. Just stay out of the way of the Forest Service and I’ll try to keep things clear for y’all as best I can, but you just— continue on with your exposition there, because I’m— I gotta be getting back to work.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: Well, what is your work, Duck Newton?

Duck: Well, I patrol my sector of the Monongahela National Forest and keep the wildlife and the plantlife safe, and I— I watch over it and I learn and, you know, do some research from time to time to— it’s kind of an even split.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: Protectin’ the wildlife, huh? How many animals do you think this thing’s killed, sucked up into its body? Just a rough estimate, do you reckon? H-how many?

Duck: How many fish do you think the black bear kills on a given day? I mean, that’s nature, right?

Griffin: And she points down to the drawing of the monster on the table. She says,

Mama: This ain’t fuckin’ nature, Duck. This is something from somewhere else that came into our world to destroy it, to destroy the forest and kill everything inside of it. That sounds like it fits your job duties one hundred percent.

Duck: And I am a guy! I’m just Duck! I— I looked at that thing last night, you— you don’t understand, you’ve been dealing with this a long time. I looked at that thing— it wanted to kill me. It could’ve killed me! If I’d given it half a chance! And maybe you all are itchin’ to throw yourselves into the— into the fire from the proverbial frying pan, but I’m not! I want to keep living, hell, I got a boat to finish, I got a cat to feed, I— this isn’t me!

Griffin: She says,

Mama: I think you’re selling yourself short there, Duck. I think— I mean, hell, do you think most folks could have faced off against this thing last night and lived to tell the tale about it?

Duck: I mean, I’m not— I’ll admit that I’m— I mean, I’m tougher than your average— I was gonna say bear, but I mean, that’s technically, I guess, still accurate, but I mean, really think about this for a second. I mean, walk through with me. We could sit here and make all the plans we want, and then we go out into the forest, right, and we find it, and then it sees me and I see it, and then I rear back and— what the fuck finishes that sentence? Seriously! What do I do, do I run up and punch it in its stomach? Am I gonna spin kick it? What— what is my— what exactly is the plan here that your buddy— I sure am— I’m kinda hard to kill, but, you know, I— I’m not exactly, you know, packin’ heavy artillery over here!

Aubrey: Duck? I— I think you’re scared. And I think that’s okay. I mean, this— that thing, that Abomination, was scary, but there’s lots and lots of people in that town, and lots and lots of people everywhere that don’t know about it, and can’t do anything about it. And we can! We can help! We can keep them from being scared! So our little bit of being scared is still way less than all of theirs added together. We— we can help! We can do something! And I don’t know what it is yet, you don’t know what it is yet, and maybe even Mama doesn’t know what it is yet, but we can do it, at least something. Something’s better than nothing, right?

Duck: Lady Flame, I— I appreciate it. I honestly do, those are kind words. And they also came from the mouth of someone that can shoot fire out of their hands. I mean, you— you understand why you might be a little better equipped to take on something like this, yeah?

Ned: Duck?

Duck: Ned.

Ned: I just remembered something. What about your special item in the Chicanerie?

Duck: Aw, god, Ned! Ned, I told you to throw that thing away!

Ned: I don’t throw anything away! I’m a big hairy hoarder! I’ve got it in my— in the Chicanerie, in the inner, inner sanctum at the Cryptonomica!

Duck: God dammit, Ned, one thing, man! Fuck! I ask one thing— I mean, shame on me, I guess, I should’ve seen this coming, seems pretty blindingly obvious in hindsight.

Ned: Well, it’s even worse, I tried to Ebay it about two years ago—

Duck: Okay, good.

Ned: Nothing happened.

Duck: From the start of that word, I thought you were about to say you tried to eat it.

Aubrey: Yeah, I actually did think that too.

Duck: I thought you were going to say that—

Griffin: Mama says,

Mama: Look, I know it seems impossible, Duck, I get that, but let’s just talk it over. We’ll talk over the plan. If we get to the end of the plan, and you still feel like you go out there you’re gonna meet your maker, I don’t blame you for walking away. But let’s— just sit down, and eat your stew, and we’ll just talk it over.

Duck: [softly] ...Fine.

Griffin: And with that, you all start formulating the plan. So, I have, like, a few questions here that I want you all to kind of answer, and it can be sort of in fiction, if you want, as you sort of devise this plan, but they are sort of the things you need to know, and they are things that you already do know, if you can— if you were paying attention and remember sort of the things that have happened so far in order to make this plan happen. So Mama says,

Mama: All right. So this thing’s obviously some kind of animal in nature, whatever it is underneath, it has sort of animal instincts. What kind of— what kind of behaviours y’all pick up on?

Ned: Well, there’s the black snot. [Aubrey: Yep.] That— that seemed to almost be like alive? On its own?

Duck: Yeah, that’s how it seemed to me, and it seemed to be able to absorb other animals into itself? I couldn’t tell if it was just dead or alive animals, but it— it seemed to be able to absorb them, for lack of a better word.

Aubrey: Well, and there was the moment where it was going to attack me, and then, uh, you threw some shit, Ned, and that—

Ned: [amused] I do throw a lot of shit.

Aubrey: You threw some shit, and that distracted it.

Mama: Animal shit? Human shit? What was it?

Aubrey: I didn’t stop to look.

Ned: Kind of a— kind of a goulash—

Mama: Oh god, stop, stop. You’re eating stew as you’re saying this, you ghoul.

Griffin: She takes out a little felt tip marker and starts writing on the drawing some of these notes— that it’s like patched together with this living black slime, and that uh, it was attracted to animals, that it seems to want to hunt animals, and so this powerful sort of stew of animal scents attracted it. Writes all that down. Barclay chimes in and says,

Barclay: And don’t forget that it seems to be able to have other animals out there looking around for it, other animals that are sort of possessed by that slime, so we should keep an eye out for that, also.

Griffin: And he takes a note on that. And she says,

Mama: All right. So, we don’t want to get caught surprised when we’re fighting this thing, so what— what’s its abilities, what’s it capable of while we’re—

Aubrey: Big.

Mama: Big.

Griffin: [amused] She writes down “big” [crosstalk] in big letters.

Duck: [crosstalk] Yeah, write down big. Angry, put down that.

Aubrey: Uh-huh. Yeah.

Duck: Yeah, it was— it seemed real, uh, hmm— impulsive. You know, a lot of animals are pretty easily spooked if you make enough noise or enough light, but I— I, you know, tried to provoke it and it made a run at me right away, which is pretty unusual for the wildlife you find around here.

Aubrey: Well, and that happened too ‘cause when the vehicle— when the thing drove up, it ran.

Griffin: She writes all that down. “Impulsive, acts on instinct, prone to run away.” She says,

Mama: Sounds like we’re gonna have to keep this thing contained if we wanna have a chance at taking it down for good, just so it doesn’t run off again and we lose our window.

Ned: And you two did hurt it— the walking stick, the fiery walking stick, did hurt it. And the fire seemed to hurt it. Not a lot—

Aubrey: I mean, to be fair, fire hurts most things.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: Now hold on, hold on. This is important, because in my experience every one of these things has something that it is susceptible to. Are you telling me that fire seemed to do some damage to this thing?

Aubrey: Yeah?

Griffin: She looks over at you, Aubrey, and says,

Mama: Well ain’t that a coinky-dink.

Griffin: And writes down in huge letters, “weakness: fire.”

Aubrey: Now, okay, but to be fair, I want to point to the biggest— to “big,” remember? Big? I can make fi— some fire, but, like, we’re going to need— we hit it with the oil lantern, and that helped. I think we’re going to need more oil, or something.

Griffin: She is grinning ear to ear as you say that. She says,

Mama: All right then. Got everything we know about this monster. What’s the plan?

Griffin: Yeah, I don’t have an idea for like where this fight’s gonna take place, or how it’s going to play out— this is now your guys’ turn to give me an idea. Where do you want this thing to take place and what are you going to do to make it your, sort of, most ideal situation?

Travis: Okay, so just to cover our bases, right? Here’s what we’ve just discussed: we need somewhere where we can corner it, or at the very least, like, contain it a little bit for the fight. Um, we’re going to need to draw it there, we’re going to need to then set up some kind of oil propellant and flame trap.

Griffin: By the way, Travis and I talked about this before we started recording, we’ve all been playing a lot of Monster Hunter lately, and it’s so choice the way that this is kind of in-line with that, I fuckin love this game so very very much. Um, but yeah, that’s— I mean, that sounds solid to me. I want to make it clear that I don’t have, like, a map of Kepler, where you guys are going to pick a location, there’s a whole concept in all the Apocalypse world games of— of leave empty spaces on maps for you guys to fill in, so you can will places into existence— not that I’m saying, like, “Oh, the old fiery tar pit [crosstalk] that is covered in spikes—”

Travis: [crosstalk] Wait, can we have that? That would be great.

Griffin: No, but like, something within reason, where you can, you know, set this thing up to fight it is what I’m— what i’m hoping for.

Aubrey: Duck? Is there any kind of, like, ca— maybe not cave, but like, ravine, or…

Duck: Here’s something else, man, I’m not going to have a big goddamn fire in the middle of my forest. So we’re gonna need to be pretty smart about where exactly the— this takes place. Now, now caves… That’s an interesting idea. The— the caves are actually… huh. They’re closed right now, but closed to the public, ‘cause of White Nose Syndrome, it killed a bunch of bats in the winter 2006, so we closed down the cave systems. So they wouldn't be actually open to the public, so maybe the— maybe the caves? ‘Least there the fire would be contained.

Griffin: Mama goes over to the couch with all the maps on it and grabs one of the Monongahela Forest and spreads it out, and she says,

Mama: Duck, you know this forest better than anyone else on earth. Can you, uh, can you pick a place?

Duck: Yeah, I got the spot.

Griffin: And she hands you the marker.

Duck: Right here. Crooked Bend.

Mama: Crooked Bend Cave?

Duck: Crooked Bend Cave. We all make fun of the name, ‘cause honestly, Crooked Bend is like— yeah, what other kind of bend is there? But who knows.

Ned: Oh, I always thought it was Crooked Ben!

Duck: No, no, no. A lot of people think it was Crooked Ben.

Ned: I thought that was old Ben Whoopsie!

Duck: Well they made the sign they painted over it, and we just haven’t had the budget [Ned: Aahh.] to fix it up yet, honestly. But yeah, Crooked Bend Cave.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: All right, we’re gonna attract this thing to the cave using… what? And then what are we gonna do once we get it in there?

Ned: Oh, I can’t believe I’m gonna say this… What about [sighs] the Wookiee costume? Doused in all of the animal shit. I’ll pop the top on the Lincoln and drive around until I get the big booger’s attention, and lure him to the cave.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: Yeah, that’s— that seems a bit dangerous for you, Ned, but if you think it’ll work, I think it’s worth a shot.

Ned: Well, Danger is my middle name. Oh, I’m sorry— Fuckin’ is my middle name [others laugh]. Danger’s the other middle name.

Mama: All right, we get this— we get this thing to the cave, and then what?

Aubrey: Do you have a generator?

Mama: Uh, yeah, sure. I mean, I would prefer not to destroy my generator—

Aubrey: Is it diesel?

Mama: Um, I mean, yeah, we got lots of gas around here.

Aubrey: Ok. So, we get that to the cave, we get the thing to the cave, and we get me to the cave, and I think we’re pretty much gonna be set.

Duck: Yeah, we’re also gonna need to finish it, though, I mean that’ll start things off, but it— it won’t be enough to put an end to it.

Griffin: She says,

Mama: Yeah, let’s, um, let’s talk weapons. What can y’all get your hands on before nightfall? I got plenty of stuff, I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve got sort of my own routine I like to follow. I think it’d probably be best if me and Barclay handle the reinforcements that are probably goin’ to show up once this thing starts howling. We’ll leave the, uh— the beast to you guys.

Aubrey: I have a knife.

Mama: I think, uh, I think you’re probably goin’ to be set, your hands are kind of your weapons there, Aubrey, what with the mystical flames and all.

Aubrey: Oh, yeah.

Mama: Duck, Ned, what about you two? You mentioned something about something you had back at the Cryptonomica?

Ned: Yeah, we did, didn’t we, Duck?

Mama: Ned, what about you? What are you packing, bud?

Ned: I, actually have something of my own back at the Cryptonomica, a trophy from my past, it’s called a .357 Magnum, the most powerful handgun made and can take your head clean off.

Mama: Well, it might be able to take my head clean off— I hope it wouldn’t, please be careful with that thing while you’re out there, but, uh, did— do you think that’ll actually be able to take a piece out of this thing?

Ned: Yeah, it might get its attention. [chuckling]

Griffin: She says,

Mama: All right, sounds like— sounds like we got a plan.

Griffin: She looks at the newspaper on her desk. She says,

Mama: All right. Sunset’s at 5:50 tonight. We’ll meet at Crooked Bend at 6. Ned, bring your car; and everybody else, bring your— your weapons.

Griffin: And Mama stands up from the table and she says,

Mama: I feel like— look, it’s just been me and Barclay doing this for a while, so I’m a little out of practice with my motivational speeches. Just— just watch each other’s backs, and play it smart, and I guarantee you we’re gonna take the night. [Amnesty theme begins to play] I don’t know why these things show up in our woods, but I think they’re here to scare us. We’re gonna show ‘em that the fine folks o’ Kepler, West Virginia ain’t so easily shook.

Justin: Duck stands up and he starts walking out of the room.

Aubrey: Duck? Where you goin’?

Duck: [sighs] I’m going to take back what’s mine.

[end music]

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