This is a continuation of the ZachsMind Blog Post dated Tuesday March 12th 2019. Come to think of it, this one might be too if I post it too soon. It’s titled “I’m so sorry. I’m out of time.” That’s intentional. In the first episode that’s what Eric Campbell, storyteller and game master for Geek & Sundry’s Callisto 6, said were the last words of a character named Doctor Patel before she unleashed strange energies on six innocent bystanders and fell to the ground.
At the beginning of the second episode of Callisto Six, Eric admits that his favorite Monte Cook game genre is probably The Strange, which he then describes as “Sliders meets Call of Cthulhu.” It feels like that’s the direction the series is going, now late into season two. I don’t know why, but soon after we learned Kylen Krause was a clone, I began assuming the “real” Kylen Krause this “Fletcher” entity was not humanoid and if you’re gonna go THERE, then you might as well go full tilt H. P. Lovecraft with the tentacles and the big gaping maw and staring into the void which stares back and the sleeping giants from the hollow Earth and all that zany wacky scary stuff.
Anyway, also at the start of the 2nd episode, as Eric Campbell does a recap of the events of the first episode, he mentions in passing that Doctor Patel’s apology was “I’m sorry, but I’m out of time.” This is, of course, unimportant. Probably. I’m not assuming it’s important, but it might be, and so I’m notating it here. The purpose of this blog post and the one before it is to review pertinent moments in the first couple episodes of Callisto 6 in light of new information presented in season two episode eight. After several weeks worth of adventures, dangers, discoveries, and plenty of funnel cakes and beer, the group known as Callisto 6 had found themselves pawns in a curious game that some mysterious entity known only as “Fletcher” appears to be playing on itself. Corporate entities which seemed to compete with each other actually only had figureheads in place which were clones of some long dead original human being named Kylen Krause. This Krause was somehow uniquely connected to a being of unspecified appearance and power known as Fletcher. It appears Fletcher wants more Callisto energy, and believes there’s some buried on The Moon. If it unleashes that energy it could destroy the Moon and Earth with it. It may also unleash unspeakable evils on… but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
I’ve gone back to where the story began, in the first couple episodes of Callisto 6 season one. These three pairs of six characters believe they have only just met as a group for the first time, and in this temporal iteration, that is probably true, but it’s not necessarily the first time from a fourth dimensional perspective.
As they exit the building into an alley, they are met by a mysterious woman who has a mortal wound. She’s carrying a canister labeled only “Callisto 6.” She apologizes to them, and then unleashes the canister. Powerful yellow energy explodes forth and strikes the six characters (as well as a seventh person nearby named Cobalt but that’s for another time) and gives them strange powers. Oya Guillén gets the ability to perceive and manipulate alternate possibilities in spacetime. Luma Orsini’s powers include shapeshifting, as well as enhanced speed and dexterity. Lacy LaGrangia-Franklin, already adept at communicating with machines moreso than some people, becomes a technopath. The Callisto energies turn an already formidable Cass Charke into a super strong powerhouse with some measure of quick healing. However if she’s not careful in the immediacy of a given moment, her bite is much stronger than her bones. She’s strong, but not impervious to harm. Anton Andazola’s body has become like elastic or silly putty. He is able t change his body into a bridge or a bouncing ball, but without a special suit he loses cohesion and is unable to maintain his original humanoid shape. Lindy “Hopps” Hopper has the ability to manipulate electricity, enhanced speed and reflexes, and can even transport instantaneously at the speed of energy itself. She appears to have become a human battery. In the instant of the Callisto energy absorption however, they are overwhelmed by the painful transformation and unable at first to resist or withstand the transition from normal human beings into .. something else entirely.
Eric continues, “It was all over in a moment, and when the smoke, literally smoke, cleared after the event, you found her looking up at you, somewhat in shock, her last words… ‘I’m sorry, I didn’t have a choice.’ She appears to have lost consciousness, face down on the ground.”
At the end of the previous ep, Luma and Lacy indicated a desire to go towards Doctor Patel’s body as soon as they were able, and Eric allows them to do so now. They don’t know her name yet. Luma (this temporal iteration’s Luma) goes over to inspect the fallen body of what is believed to be Doctor Patel, while Lacy picks up the canister. Now, the first time this story is presented, we are led to believe this is a lab scientist who works for one of the corporate behemoths of the city. Luma sees the Doctor’s name tag on her lapel. They research her name and learn who she is and that sets a chain reaction of detection and discovery. In episode 2.8 we learn that this is not Doctor Patel but rather Luma from the future, who has gone back in time not to warn her friends but to accomplish something else and failing that, she had no choice but to finish what Doctor Patel had started.
However, this begs the question: what exactly had Doctor Patel started? Her plan could not possibly have been to take this canister of Callisto energy and unleash it on six mostly strangers. She was going to do something else entirely with it, was thwarted, and found herself chased by Fletcher’s goons, so she turned down an alley, and knowing what the canister’s energy’s were capable, THEN unleashed it on Luma and the rest? Is that what happened in the previous iteration? Or perhaps in the previous iteration there was no inciting riot? Perhaps the Luma from the future caused that in this iteration as a diversion, but in the process that’s when she got shot? We must presume that in the previous version of events at least Luma and Oya had gotten similar powers to this iteration, but maybe it didn’t happen in that alley? Maybe Cass, Anton and Hopps never got any last time? The events as they were presented to the players of the game and we their audience were not necessarily identical in every temporal iteration. It’s speculation to assume they did, just as it’s speculation to try and guess what actually did happen. The timeline before this one, which led to things becoming so dire that Oya sacrificed her own life to send Luma back in time to try again.
Eric continues. He describes sounds the six can hear from the front of the convention center. Sounds of rioting and violence are getting worse, and there’s also sounds of hovercraft approaching, presumably to somehow nullify the crowd on the other side of the building. In this moment, Lacy is frantically studying the canister trying to understand what it held and from where it came.
“What is Callisto Six!?” Lacy shouts at no one in particular, and her words echo about the alley walls unanswered. Eric notes the six are still recovering from a ringing of their ears. Mere seconds before Hopps had uncontrollably unleashed a lightning strike which almost deafened them.
“What the hell just happened!?” Cassie said, vocalizing the sentiments and frustration they all shared.
“I don’t know. Is she still breathing?” Luma reaches out to the fallen doctor. Eric describes as Luma turns the doctor over, her eyes roll back and they see a trickle of blood from her mouth. They notice a wound on her side.
“What kind of wound?” Gina, the player who represents Luma, asks Eric the game master.
“It’s.. So, 2119 they have of course upgraded past bullets and are now using plasma bolts. Very highly concentrated bolts of energy. When fired at point blank range, they cause wounds similar to ballistic wounds as the discharge is still forming in that second of time, but at long range they immediately fuse wounds closed. It’s like getting shot by a soldering iron at supersonic speeds. She is bleeding. It looks like a close range gun shot. You can see how bad the wound is Luma. The moment you roll her over her eyes haven’t completely rolled back in her head. She hasn’t completely lost consciousness, but she is slipping away. The wound is grievous to say the least. You can see the faint hint of bleached white bone underneath a stretched burned muscle right underneath the lab coat area that disappears as you shift her around. She is critically injured. There is also a name tag still on her lab suit.”
“What does it say?”
“Uhm. Has a picture of her face, and written across it..” Eric couldn’t find her name in his notes, so he went to make it up: “Doctor Arani Kana.” Then he realizes he had his notes printed out on both sides of the paper. He corrects himself and says her actual name is “Doctor Anika Patel.” He makes a point to spell it out, which he didn’t do for the other improvised name. Then Eric goes on to say Doctor Patel worked for Pyramid Star Solutions and that her security clearance is represented by a barcode, which Lacy can immediately read without trying. “Level one clearance.” So Lacy’s the first character to notice their powers manifesting AFTER the initial surge of Callisto Six energy. Granted, Cassie hand pounded a crater into the pavement and Hopps shot off a bolt of energy while Anton’s body fell apart and put itself back together, but this is after all that craziness. Lacy’s talents are far more subtle than the others.
“Level one clearance, Pyramid Star Solutions,” Lacy said.
Luma sounded desperate, “I don’t know what to do! I’ve taken first aid but this is different does anybody have some cloth? Something clean?” Lacy offers her first aid kit from her chair, but she has no medicine talent. Player Amy Dallen points out her character Cass Charte is trained in healing. Cass has been in enough scrapes to tell the difference between a mild abrasion and something beyond immediate repair. She takes a look at the doctor’s injury and conveys to Luma that the situation is dire.
Indicating the best way to apply pressure to stop bleeding, Cass says, “maybe that way, but that’s not something you walk away from.”
Player Sam de Leve (Lacy) points out that “walking is optional,” to which Hector Navarro (Anto) gives a “whoa.” That was pretty metal.
Eric sets the difficulty at six. By the Cypher System, this means you multiply the difficulty by three and get the target number on a d20. In this scenario, Gina (Luma) must roll an 18 or better to succeed. Then Eric cites her modifiers. She has Cass helping her out which drops the difficulty by one so three times five is fifteen. Then he acknowledges Lacy’s first aid kit which is seen as an asset. That drops the difficulty down to four. Four times three is twelve. So now on a d20, it would take a roll of 12 or better to stabilize the Doctor, but it won’t be enough to bring her back to full health. She needs a hospital for that. However, it will give them a moment perhaps to talk to her.
Meanwhile Eric describes to the rest of the group that they’re in different states of recovery after what just happened. Hopps has fallen unconscious and when Anton tried to touch her it singed his fingertips like touching a live electrical wire. Oya experiences blurred vision like she has a concussion, but it’s also described as if she’s seeing multiple instances of time instantaneously.
For some reason Lacy actually makes the roll. She drops the roll down to 8 due to her experience with cybernetics. I guess they decide Lacy’s numbers are better than Luma’s. Eric confirms the roll of eight or better as the difficulty and Lacy rolls a fifteen. So Eric allows for the stabilization but due to the severity of injuries, if she does not get immediate medical attention at a facility, she’s going to die, and moving her would kill her, so she’s going to die here. However, they are able to get her to consciousness briefly. “I need medical stasis,” Lacy reports when she’s done all she can, “she cannot be moved she’ll die.” Unfortunately they can’t do the 2119 equivalent of 911 due to the emergency happening out front.
Now why is all this important? Later in the series, Luma learns that she can change her appearance and even give an appearance of superficial wounds but she can’t fake an inspection of this much detail. In episode 2.8 at one point Luma asks the surviving Doctor Patel if it was Future Luma who died in this Luma’s arms and not Doctor Patel, why didn’t Future Luma turn back into herself after she died? Doctor Patel mentioned that in her timeline, Fletcher had sapped so much of Luma’s Callisto energy from her, she didn’t know how many times she had left to use her powers. Presumably, when she turned into Doctor Patel, she died stuck in that form, having lost the Callisto energy necessary to change back to herself after death. Another possibility I’m entertaining is that Future Luma was faking her own death, and somehow escaped and may even reappear later on in the story. However, Eric’s description of this is very specific. The injury Luma observed on a Future Luma she thought to be Doctor Patel, was grievous and beyond surviving. Even at full strength, it’s doubtful Luma would be able to fake that kind of close up inspection of her shape shifting abilities without detection, and it’s also doubtful she survived that wound. There is yet another possibility. If Fletcher’s people picked up the body in question and did their undead mad scientist mumbo jumbo, it’s possible future Luma exists as an undead monstrosity of some sort. That is a bit of a stretch though, and perhaps not worth the effort. Still, it does beg the question what happened to future Luma’s body, as I don’t recall the gang taking it with them after the battle. I think it disappears.
Eric continues, “She starts to regain consciousness.. she just says..”
“Doctor Patel?” Luma asks.
“You have to get out of here.” Patel whispers.
“We’re trying to get you help!”
Eric, as Patel, shakes their head. “They’re coming.”
Cassie shouts, “Who’s coming what’s happening what did you do to us!?”
Patel says, “I didn’t have a choice. I’m so sorry.”
Oya asks, “Who did this to you?”
Ever the optimist, Luma says, “Hey hey you’re gonna be fine like you said they’re coming okay? They’re coming!”
Then Eric suggests everyone make perception checks. Well, everyone except Hopps. She’s still unconscious. Interestingly this may be the last sleep Hopps has for several episodes, as her condition as a living battery makes it unable to her to rest or sleep.
Doctor Patel/Future Luma’s last words directly to Luma are: “it’s all up to you now.”
Cassie takes Patel’s name tag. (29:38)
Those who pass the perception check notice the drop ship using a search light, trying to find the doctor. That’s when the battle in the alley with Fletcher’s minions begin, as a drop ship flies in carrying roughly a dozen security guards who do NOT have any specific corporate insignia. This group is off the books. And then we’re off to the races.
I may need to watch the rest of this episode in order to confirm what happens to Patel’s body. I think it just disappears and nobody observes what happened to it. We still have a seventh player in this mix whose events we are intentionally not privy. Cobalt happened to be nearby and got a dose of the Callisto energy, but begins to phase in and out of reality, or so we’ve been told. It’s possible he knows the fate of Future Luma’s body. Or perhaps someone else entirely had a hand in it. There’s a lot of wriggle room here for story expansion.
For now I’ll have to end the exploration here. Real life intervenes once more. Once again, I’m simply out of time, I’m so sorry.
Adding this on the evening of March 16th: Watching the rest of 2nd episode, I notice about two hours in after the drop ship has picked them up, Luma accidentally turns into Dr. Patel as they examine the Callisto 6 canister she had been carrying and her badge with blood spattered on it that Cass palmed earlier. They’ve since left the fated alley and none of the players bothered to check on Patel/Future Luma’s body during or after the fight. They left behind the goons who had been tailing Patel/Luma. So highest plausible probability is that they picked up the dead body and took it back with them to Fletcher (or whoever they served, most likely it’s Fletcher). Next highest probability is that Future Luma, knowing she’s supposed to appear to die, somehow faked her death VERY well and managed to escape. Perhaps with the assistance of Mendoza and Kylen Prime, provided she had been able to communicate with them before “Alley day.” Depends on how far back Oya sent her.
We also have to keep in mind our source of info regarding Future Luma is the ‘real’ Doctor Patel, who could simply have been lied to by future Luma. OR she’s been told the truth but asked to lie to the present timeline C6 gang. I’m hoping that Cobalt is a very elaborate ruse. Future Luma had to pose as a seventh C6 member for some reason we don’t know yet, and worked with Mendoza and Kylen Prime to invent Cobalt for some reason. However, I admit this is a long shot. I just like the idea that Future Luma didn’t die and has been hiding out as Cobalt. Also if I were Eric I’d leave open the possibility that all the characters survive to the end of season two, and realize they have to go back in time to create yet more alternate possibilities to increase their chances of success. So maybe some or all the characters go back in time. There could be a future Hopps, future Anton, future Cass, perhaps even future Oya learns she can send everyone back in time under the right circumstances and if she rolls well enough she doesn’t have to die. If she fumbles, Eric could say Oya appears to die during transport but she’s simply lost in time and has to make her way back. So maybe Luma didn’t lie. Maybe she honestly believes she’s the only one who made it all the way back to before the beginning, but the others simply didn’t go back as far as Luma did and they appear along the way in this same timeline, but under the radar. So Fletcher doesn’t know they exist yet. Imagine a point along this storyline where there are two groups of Callisto 6, one a few months older than the other, and they go up against Fletcher at the same time. I’m just spit balling here. So many variables. So many possibilities.
About two hours and six minutes into the 2nd episode, Eric describes a vision Oya sees at Pyramid Star in the room where the Callisto 6 energy was being kept before “Alley Day.” This exchange appears to be between Doctor Patel and Kylen Krause, but what if this exchange was between Future Luma posing as Doctor Patel, and what if Kylen Krause knows much more about what’s going on, on an interdimensional level, than he’s been letting on..?
Luma/Patel says something Oya doesn’t understand. Kylen appears very charismatic and friendly.
Kylen Krause asks, “Are you feeling okay? You look anxious. Is there something on your mind?”
Oya is experiencing this vision from Dr. Patel’s POV. This is possibly also Future Luma’s point of view. Eric explains to Aliza that Oya feels her heart accelerate, “like you just realized you were in a spider’s web and you made a movement. You’re waiting to see if the ripple had alerted the spider, and he smiles at you.”
Luma/Patel says, “No I-I’ve been losing a lot of sleep lately. A lot of caffeine.”
Kylen says, “Mmm.. I’m sorry again about your wife. It’s a shame what happened to her. And your family. I’m glad that we can do something for you though. For all the work that you’ve done for Pyramid Star.”
We have assumed until now that Kylen was referring to Patel’s wife and family, and perhaps this is still true. However, another interpretation of this scene, if we assume Krause/Fletcher knows future Luma is posing as Patel.. who would Luma’s wife be in the future? Cass? Someone else?
Luma/Patel says, “I thank you for that. Thank you.”
Kylen says, “I trust you won’t be making the same mistakes they did.”
…Lacy? Could Lacy be Luma’s significant other in this alternate timeline? Or might Cassie be referred to as a they? That’s still more plausible.
Luma/Patel, says, “No. No.”
Kylen says, “Good. Good. We’re.. We’re too close! We’re much too close. So now unfortunately we have to do what is necessary, even if it seems tasteless, or brutal. We can’t have any variables this late in the game.” (Sam breaks a pencil.) Luma/Patel/Oya nods. Kylen continues, “Good. Good. I’m glad you understand. Well. Continue your work, and maybe when this is done and the world is forever changed, there will be a place for you in it. Good night. Doctor Patel.” Then he gets a phone call and turns away from Oya/Patel/Luma maybe. “Hello? It is? How are you!?” and Kylen starts walking back up the stairs.
Oya feels fury at this point. “Rage on a primal level, down to the core of your bones. It’s up there with a mother’s fury. Something that transcends any kind of verbal description. It is elemental. A hatred that is fuel. And all that anxiety of ‘am i going to do this’ dies immediately as you realize you’re stealing it, even if it costs you your life.” That’s the end of Oya’s vision. She later recreates this vision in a virtual landscape and shows it to the rest of the group, including present Luma.
We again presumed before that it was Patel’s fury over the loss of her family, and it’s possible there are iterations of this time loop where that happened, but if this was Future Luma posing as Doctor Patel, and this entire conversation has different connotations now, it could mean Luma is furious over how all these alternate realities are part of Fletcher’s plan. Perhaps there is no more Callisto Six energy on the Moon, but there is Fletcher trapped in an ancient prison from which he cannot escape because he is too weak, and he needs to be able to siphon Callisto energy in order to escape his prison, but there’s only a little bit in each version of reality. If Fletcher can trick Callisto Six into making a near infinite number of temporal loops, each of these temporal loops would contain the same small about of Callisto Six. Being an interdimensional being, if Fletcher can trick them into making enough alternate realities, and get enough Callisto Six gangs up to the moon to siphon off their energy, then eventually he’d be strong enough to escape and either wreck havoc on both the moon and the Earth, or perhaps create a ‘new world’ in which Kylen believes there’d be a place for future Luma, but without her friends or other variables.
So future Luma has no choice but to infect her friends again with the Callisto energy, hoping they will find a way to destroy Fletcher before he kills enough of them to escape his prison. Again, I’m just spit balling here.