The Castle: Casting Call – Session Notes – 25 April 2020

The Castle: Casting Call – Session Notes – 25 April 2020

16 June, 2025 – Dubai, U.A.E.

During the night, Mike and Hugo observe John – looking quite monstrous – slinking out of the apartment. He tells them that he’ll be back shortly.

Early the next morning, EmilyBot reports in and states that it managed to remove the van from the Ministry of Transportation video feeds – however the van had been reported stolen, and the bot was unable to intercept it before it went out in a bulletin.

Huge, Daphne, Seamus, Emma, and Mike head out into the neighborhood surrounding the apartment building and swap the van’s license plates with those from a car parked in a nearby garage. Meanwhile, Margaret and Jamie go to a local bodega and purchase enough food for the team for the day.

By the time everyone arrives back, John arrives, looking more hale and hearty than the party had previously seen him, having replaced his bathrobe and slippers with a tweed blazer and some nice-looking but practical boots. After Margaret and Jamie produce an expansive breakfast for everyone, John sits down with the party and says, “So I guess we should have a conversation about your new lives….”. Through the extensive discussion, the party learns the following:

  • There’s an estimated 100-200k people in the world born with various unquantifiable talents. They vary greatly, from Emily’s ability with data to, what John perceives, Hugo living one second in the future from everyone else.
  • There are that number again of the “sentient monsters” as John calls them. Vampires, werewolves, and the like. (He hasn’t seen a mummy, but he’s heard of them.). Vampires, being once human and largely a-mortal have created a fairly extensive set of rules and oversight that generally keeps everyone from being discovered. More on that below.
  • He confirms there’s an afterlife, and he’s not an expert, but it apparently has multiple levels having to do with an individual’s remaining life force. He says that the “nearby” worlds are almost mirrors of our own, and anyone – like Jamie – who can physically travel there could get a substantial tactical advantage.
  • The Fey are another matter altogether. From John’s understanding, sometime back at the dawn of Homo Sapiens, the world was co-inhabited by the Sidhe as well as an entire ecology of magical flora and fauna. At some point, a barrier went up, referred to simply as The Veil, that separated the magical and the physical worlds – much to the chagrin of the Sidhe. Occasionally a Sidhe is born into a human, like Daphne. Some “conspiracy theorists” think that may be a deliberate infiltration scheme by the faerie courts, but John finds that a bit far-fetched. There are also those born with a bit of that ancient blood in them, granting them certain affinities and abilities, such as, presumably, Seamus and Mike. The fey are also known to be able to confer some of their magic to others, such as in the case of Jamie.
  • The current cause for concern is a group called the Technocracy – which is a catch-all for a grouping of people and creatures with what John calls “the emergent properties of civilization”. He also refers to them as the “new gods”. They are very calculating and somewhat alien and generally very unpleasant and unnatural. Dubai happens to be one of their sources of power – a major city that didn’t grow or evolve, but was simply brought into being fully-formed. About five years ago, they began collecting specimens of the supernatural creatures of the world – John and Henry the Werewolf included – and started running experiments to try to figure out how they work and, presumably, commoditize their powers. They have a vested interest in keeping the Sidhe out of “their” world and maintaining their hold on an unsuspecting human civilization.
  • With so few “special” creatures in the world and so many humans, the golden rule universally has been to remain hidden. None of the supernatural violate it consciously and, since they have their own enmities, there grew a necessity to establish the concept of “sacred ground” where peace would be enforced for the good of all. John has spent the last several centuries owning and operating such “sanctuaries”, his latest being near Times Square. He also notes that supernaturals tend to have a disruptive effect on electronics, and they should avoid flying if at all possible.
  • John reiterates to the party that their old lives are over. The Technocracy generally and the Division specifically are very good at leaving behind few traces and closely monitoring whatever is left – and he strongly encourages the party to pursue threads of their old lives with the greatest of care. He offers up his sanctuary as a place they can stay, indefinitely if desired, as repayment for setting him free.

Shortly after breakfast, the cell phone rings and John answers it. The man on the other end of the line is obviously a dear friend and they discuss arrangements for getting out of the city. John’s friend, Alfred, has arranged for a container transport to get the party to the Port of New Jersey. It will be departing the Jebil Ali port the following night. The party has a choice whether to break into the port to make it to the ship or to meet the ship at sea. John reserves judgement until the party can discuss it. Alfred has also arranged for a drop of goods at a tourist’s locker near the Dubai Gold Souk and it should be available to pick up at 3pm. He gives the party a combination code.

Hugo, Mike, Daphne, and Emily take the van to the location and pick up the gear. On their way back to the apartment, they notice they’re being followed, and Hugo does some evasive driving and loses the tail. They ditch the van and steal a new one from an industrial block and head back to the apartment.

The gear drop contains quite a bit of cash in Dirhams, Iranian dinars, Euros, and US dollars, a number of small cans John takes (everyone assumes its synthetic blood), a field surgical kit, a change of casual clothes and shoes for the entire party, and a full day worth of MREs and some purified water.

The party discusses their options briefly, but ultimately conclude that since they have an actual pirate in the party, they should steal a boat and meet the container ship at sea.

2 Comments

  1. Patricia Gillian
    May 8, 2020

    The next morning they were woken up by a cheerful voice chirping that she had deleted all the video footage of them. The car had still been reported as stolen, though. Granted, deleting the videos of the car would be a help. Hopefully. As long as the program, AI, bot, whatever, had done it properly, and not just left a trail of deleted footage leading straight to their hiding place.

    John was no longer in the bedroom, and not anywhere else in the apartment either. Most likely, he had gone out to feed. There had not been much time for questions, but Margaret felt she desperately needed a lot of questions answered when he returned. Writing them down, though, was not an option. Chances were, the supernatural community, or communities, would not like that. There was always the possibility of camouflaging it as fiction, of course; urban fantasy was popular enough that she felt certain she could make notes disguised as work for a book, with a minimum of work.

    As the group drifted into the living room, she noticed that something seemed to have changed Mike’s opinion of her, or at the very least his behaviour towards her. He suddenly seemed skittish around her, and acted as if he considered her a danger. Not that she really minded; if that would keep him from giving her orders and using his powers to force her to do what he wanted, well, she was not going to complain. It would have been better if he had refrained from doing so because he realised it was wrong, rather than because he was afraid of her, but it if stopped, she would happily take it.

    Since the apartment now was very much out of food, Margaret and Jamie went out to buy some breakfast, while several of the others headed off to do something else; from what they said, it sounded like something illegal. Margaret preferred not to know what, exactly, they were going to do. Not that it would be much of an excuse; she had, after all, asked Emily to rob a cash-point. Also, she decided that since John had said that this place was controlled by their enemy, their petty crimes were justified, if only to stay out of their enemies’ hands, so she did not have to feel too bad about it.

    As she and Jamie exited the building, she realised that the sunlight was going to be a problem. Or at least an inconvenience; had she caught fire, now _that_ would have been a problem. Or perhaps not; if she were really dead, not just undead, she would probably no longer care, and the sun would not be a problem. Still, it was obvious that going outside in the middle of the day in glaring sunlight was quite different from going outside in the evening. She supposed that made sense, especially if it was the UV light that was dangerous. The lower the sun was, the less UV light would reach her. That would explain the moon too, since the UV light it reflected from the sun was a tiny fraction of what reached the Earth directly from the sun. Good thing she never felt the need to get a tan; tanning beds might be lethal now. That would mean that clothing and windows would also help. If so, the Middle-East might be a perfect hiding place for female vampires.

    Finding a place to purchase some food was not difficult. What more, they sold hijabs as well. That would help a little bit, at least, or so she hoped. Being in a place where covering as much skin as possible would not really attract much attention was an advantage, she supposed.

    They headed back to the apartment, and Jamie ended up cooking, with Margaret helping. By then, John had returned, and Margaret handed the phone to him. His contact would probably appreciate being able to talk to him now that he was awake. The man she had spoken to had not sounded too happy about not being able to talk to John, and now that John was awake, there was no reason for her to keep the phone.

    As the others ate, John was finally able to answer a lot of their questions. The supernatural abilities were new to most of them, and most of them had been unaware of this other world until they woke up a few days ago. It occured to Margaret that she might be the one in the group who had had the longest time to get used to the idea of beings like vampires, faeries, dragons, ghosts and werewolves.

    He started with what could be considered a crash course into the world they had just entered. There were several groups of people, or supernaturals or whatever they were. One group was the people born with various abilities, like Emma, Emily and John. Another group was the monsters. Vampires, werewolves and others, like Cole, John and, she supposed, Margaret. Not that she felt much like a monster, but that might change depending on the circumstances, she suspected. And then there was the Sidhe.

    The Sidhe was a separate species, and had been around since mankind’s highest technical achievement was banging two rocks together without squashing their thumbs. Well, banging two rocks together, at least. Some Sidhe were born as a human, like Daphne. Others had traces of Sidhe blood in them, like Seamus and Mike; at least that was how Margaret understood it. And some Sidhe had the ability to give some magic to others, like Jamie. It seemed like he had met Daphne once before, and she had somehow given him a magic ability. Jamie claimed that it had been through a kiss; Margaret was not convinced. Considering that they had stepped into another world now, of magic and monsters and elves, and also considering that in fairytales, a ‘kiss’ was, according to a least some scholars, just an euphemism for something less innocent… She was going to assume that this was the case here, or at least pretend she did. Just for fun.

    In addition to these groups, there was the Technocracy. She supposed that anyone with a technical leaning, and who was willing, or ruthless enough, to kill or lock up and run experiments on other sentient beings simply because they might not be fully human, would be welcome. It seemed they had tried to recruit Emily, so they clearly did not have an issue with all supernaturals.

    Shortly after the others had finished breakfast, the phone rang. John and his contact, Alfred, spoke for a while, discussing ways of getting out of Dubai. There was a container ship that would get them to New Jersey; they would have to find a way onto that ship, however. Also, Alfred had arranged for a supply drop, so several of them left to fetch the gear that had been left for them. Margaret decided to stay in the apartment, as she did not feel up to braving the sunlight again so soon.

    There were so many things she wanted to ask John, but he did not seem interested in talking, and she did not want to be too pushy, so she sat there, quietly, missing her e-reader, questions popping up in her head like door-to-door salesmen on her door. Back when she had had a normal life.

    What would happen if she drank the blood of another vampire? What kinds of blood should she stay clear of? Could she catch a disease by drinking from a sick person? How were new vampires made? The last one was important; she did not want to accidentally turn someone else into a vampire, after all. Was garlic a problem? And then all the things she had been thinking of already. How about holy water? Running water? A cross, or another holy symbol?

    She sighed. If this were a book or a movie, with John’s ‘later’, there would most likely not be a ‘later’. They would end up in a situation where having known these things might save her, or them, and then things would go horribly wrong. And since she was, after all, a librarian, there was no way she would be the main character. In other words, had this been a book, she would be wearing the proverbial red shirt, and the best she could have hoped for would be a spectacular death.

    From the file this Technocracy had on her, it seemed they too considered her a redshirt. It had been brief; the only reason she had caught their attention had been Ezra, and it seemed they had picked her up as an afterthought, or, what was it they had written? Right, ‘collateral damage to be used as a control subject’. Meaning redshirt, just with fancier words.

    “The moral of the story was not to wear a red shirt. Or go on away missions when you’re the only one whose name isn’t on the opening credits.”

    ― John Scalzi, Redshirts

  2. Rustleaf
    May 9, 2020

    In a brief flash of blessed normalcy, I was making breakfast.

    You know the moment of sunrise at the end of a great party. When people are scattered about the house in various stages of undress and conciousness. When you need to watch where you step.

    Someone is making too much noise in an unfamiliar kitchen to provide breakfast for the ones who woke up early, and for the ones who have yet to pass out.

    You’re not sure if the party will end today, or go on for another night, but a kind soul has made a pile of toast and bacon and a mug of orange juice. The radio is on, news about local sports and some stupid war far away filters in one ear, and out the other.

    And then someone says from the other room in another house: “I’ve got a vampire and a necromancer in the kitchen making breakfast”. The moment ends. You realize that you are far away, in the middle of a stupid war, and that this is another ball game entirely.

    I want my life back back, and it seems I can’t have that.

    I need this to be blamed on someone.

    I need someone to blame for this.

    I need to blame someone for this.

    I’ll stick with my new friends. They seem like good people. Mostly. Mostly good, and mostly people. I don’t know.

    At least there is breakfast.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *