The M-Files: Session 5 Recap

Last night’s game took the pace down a notch. Most of the session consisted of interpersonal RP and some light investigation while the hunters process what’s happening. Also, the two (intertwined) arcs have become clearer, so now they have to decide which thread to follow or, perhaps, to fight on two fronts at the same time.

Narrative

When last we left our heroes… The hunters have JUST banished a Dark Young and finished off a cultist, but Ophelia is in a bad way. Andi’s healing magic has stabilized her, but a bullet remains in her abdomen. Cordelia looks a bit roughed up as well. The entire crew heads to the Order’s local headquarters rather than a hospital to avoid the reporting of a gunshot wound to the police. In her delirium, Ophelia receives clouded images of something bad that is yet to happen. She sees (hallucinates?) a red pentagram in a black void, pulsating with energy that extrudes tendrils into her. (Alice doesn’t know it yet, but fate is unkind and something bad is going to happen to her.)

Photo of neon tattoo sign during nighttime
Photo by reda rachdi on Unsplash

To enter the Order’s local headquarters, they first enter a goth tattoo parlor in a strip shopping center and head to the back. It’s quite late at night, so the parlor doesn’t have too many people in it at the moment. A biometric pad secures a door that leads down into what looks like an old church with a large central table, candles everywhere, and several smaller side rooms and hallways. A medic quickly attends to Cord and Ophelia, performing a quick extraction of the bullet and giving them pain medications. Andi and Alice stand around in the main room, trying to conceal their nervousness for their friends by perusing the arcane tomes and not reshelving the books. Moral ambiguity, here we come!

While doing so, Andi hears some concerned whispers among other members of the Order. Two phrases grab her attention: “Corpus Christi” and “Phoebe”. Taking a moment to read a bad situation, it turns out that the local chapter’s former leader (who has been promoted to assist one of the Order’s council members) headed down to Corpus Christi, Texas, on some sort of mission and hasn’t checked in with them for several days.

After quietly letting Cordelia know about this, Andi heads back to the kitchen, where she meets an older Italian man named Alfred. Delighted to find someone else from her home country, the two quickly get wrapped up in loud, happy conversation.

Cordelia checks in with Julia, a formidable middle-aged woman who has hunted monsters with the order for years. The operational cadence has increased recently, largely due to an uptick in reports of haunted forests and suspicious altars. She also confirms that Phoebe left four or five days ago, and while Corpus Christi is technically part of the territory of the Houston chapter, they haven’t heard from her either.

Ophelia, feeling somewhat better, heads into the stacks to look for the Prophecies. After all, wasn’t she originally Chosen before they determined that no, it was Alice? Maybe she can find something that will explain what has happened to her. Unfortunately, everything in this upper portion of the facility concerns relatively mundane threats like ghosts, werewolves, and vampires. The lack of information gets her blood boiling, and she feels a growing anger. Cordelia notices and quietly tells her that the real secrets are locked away, and encourages everyone to head to the kitchen where Andi and Alfred have started preparing pizza for everyone.

Sometime in the wee hours, everyone goes home. It takes them a bit to wind down even then: Ophelia goes and eats some more, while Cordelia takes a shower and winces as that cracked rib may take some time to heal. Andi & Alice decide to watch some Netflix, but of course they have reached some level of exhaustion as well. They fall asleep during the second episode of Stranger Things.

Cord wakes up in the early afternoon to find Ophelia standing over her, having attempted to cast a jinx (which can have positive effects!) But the fickle forces of the universe are unkind and… it doesn’t go well. After an omelette, the two head to Alice and Andi’s place to discuss what to do next.

When they arrive, Andi has her family grimoire (which doubles as a cookbook) open and is busily making pasta and a chocolate torte for everyone. Ophelia mentions that she’d like to avoid the calamari, as it just feels a bit too close to home. A long discussion of wildly varying high school experiences ensues, as they all became involved in this fight at a relatively early age but came from distinct socioeconomic backgrounds.

Andi and Cordelia have a discussion about the recent forest cult. She’s dealt with some of these before; they have a doomsday bent, trying to bring about the end of the world via the Mother of the Dark Young. Cordelia discusses the recent forest investigations and they start to realize that this activity increase likely indicates the cults are doing… something. Andi could call her father, Prosper Caruso, to help, but she’d rather not call him. He’s overbearing, intimidating, and manipulative. The cult leaders tend to know each other, and so he might be able to find someone who knows who leads the local cult.

Finally, she does reach out to him, and it goes about as she expected. He’s happy to see her, and of course he’ll help her. When she tells him that they killed a cultist who’d hurt them, he grins and tells her that she’s more like him than she might want to admit. He also knows that the cults are more active lately, so he’ll call in a favor to find out what’s going on. And of course, if anyone else causes her trouble, he could make a call to ensure they never do again.

At the same time, Cordelia tells the group she has a leadership meeting and goes back to the Order alone. Of course she doesn’t: she just wants to check on some things confidentially. Her office previously belonged to Phoebe, so she looks for any remaining information and investigates a mystery. All she can find is a file folder with two scraps of paper: an address in Corpus Christi and a checklist with 5 code names, all checked off but the last two in different ink.

Briefly, we cut to a shot of Phoebe’s face in a dark room with light reflected on her face. The hue of the light suddenly shifts, and Phoebe gasps in fear.

Cutting back to Cordelia, she heads down to the wine cellar where some of the prophecies are stored in hidden, empty wine bottles. The prophecy that previously had seemed to apply to Ophelia has changed slightly, or more correctly the paper has. Blue tendrils have curled into the paper from the edges. She also notes that the prophecy consists of five lines, and grows concerned when she realizes the first letter of each line spells out SHEOL.

Referring to other writings on the prophecies, she learns that the Order believes that all these attempts to bring about the world’s end reflect the same underlying phenomenon, but projected in ways that reflect the cultural biases of the people involved (the Four Horsemen, the Dark Young, etc.).

With growing concern, she heads back and the group dives into wine and ice cream while agreeing that it’s time for a road trip to Corpus Christi.

Wrap-up

So much to love about this session! The change of pace to let the characters develop a bit and think about what’s happening in the world around them gave everyone (IC and OOC) a chance to breathe and process emotions. Andi’s father, Prosper Caruso, came straight from my fears as a father of a strong, independent young woman as well as channeling the mannerisms of older men in my family.

Next week, they look forward to seeing the arcs intertwine further, plus exploring the dynamic between Alice (the Chosen) and Ophelia (formerly thought to be the Chosen). Plus, road trips always bring joy!

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