Black Lives Matter

I tend not to think of this site as public since its primary purpose is for us to track the games we play and provide a reminder of the stories we create together. I realized this weekend, though, that others do read it, including potential new players pointed here by our game listings on Meetup, so as a public site, we should speak up on the public protests and events happening in the U.S.

We at Story Games Westchester support the protests against police brutality because black lives matter. We support any and all efforts to reform and reimagine the U.S. criminal justice system, from policing through prosecution to prisons. These systems are racist and perpetrate violence against black, indigenous, and other people of color every day. The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others are only the ones we hear about. The daily toll aggressive policing takes on black and brown people remains largely hidden.

Gaming has its own prejudices that manifest in exclusion and harassment of BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ+ gamers. We oppose these acts and actively work to include and make welcome anyone who wants to play in our games. But we promise to do more to reach out to marginalized people in our efforts to introduce people to and promote playing improvised story games.

One of the reasons we play games is because they develop empathy and attune us to the feelings of others. We look out for one another at the table, and story games require everyone to have a voice and use it. We add our voice now to those calling for racial justice in America, in our lives, and at our game tables.

Palanquin for Two

Tonight we played Palanquin again, this time with only two bearers—the Bearers of Magic and Nature—to escort Princess Ulkualzi to her Aunt Baru’s home and safety. We begin, as always, in the kitchen with the Heir hiding from the sounds of the violent coup underway upstairs. The Hunter appears following a bear wandering through the halls and the Magister comes scrounging magical components from the kitchen supplies.

A dark-skinned woman in a cloak with an upraised hood glares off to the left in front of a fiery moon. Palanquin a roleplaying game of escape & trust is printed on the right side.
Image courtesy of Genesis of Legend Games.

As we exit the kitchen attempting to flee the palace, an animated suit of armor blocks our path, but the Hunter and his companion tear the suit apart and we escape into the surrounding town among the people. As we make our way through the market district, we find we’re being trailed by feral wildcats, but the Magister distracts with a light show that confounds the cats, allowing us to slip into the smuggler tunnels beneath the capital. As we make our way through this sewer, on the lookout for cultists and reptilian creatures, a shadow appears before us, barring our way. The Hunter attempts to make an offering of poisonous mushrooms, but the incorporeal being ignores him. The Heir, however, recognizes the shadow as the Weeping Lady, a ghost who haunts the capital, and calls upon the power of her station to command her to let them pass.

We emerge from the tunnels into the purple jungle with its alligators and places of divine power and native peoples. We create a makeshift raft to travel downriver, but a fairy known as the Tempest appears and the river becomes dangerous as a violent storm rises. The Magister asks the fairy to stop but the storm worsens as ferocious fish fall from the sky. So, the Heir rallies her bearers to row for shore where they quickly light a fire to ward off the wilds and protect them until the storm passes. As we begin walking through the jungle, a wasp the size of a bull flies toward us, but the Magister is ready with a malodorous spray that drives the creature away.

Finally, we come to the demon wastes, littered with broken bones and dark overcast skies. If we can find the right gravesite, we’ll have the instructions we need to escape the wastes and emerge into Baru’s lands. First, we must overcome the shadow poison that seeps into our bodies and souls. The Magister casts a protective spell that shields us from its noxious effects, but as we come upon the graveyard, we are attacked by zombie skeletons emerging from the ground. The Hunter and his bear try to fight them off but they keep coming in unending waves. The Heir begins a holy prayer for deliverance, but the zombies reach up and grab her legs and cloak as she kneels. The Magister must act to save her before it’s too late. His incantations bring forth a horde of fiery beasts that fly about and destroy the zombies to save the Heir.

In Aunt Baru’s royal chambers, Princes Ulkualzi offers Periani the Hunter, Master of Nature, her most sincere thanks and appoints Tanalor the Magister, Master Sorcerer, to a place on her royal council.

Microscope on the Stars

Tonight we played Microscope by Ben Robbins to create the story of humans venturing into the stars to escape the ecological disaster they had created on Earth.

Our story begins during the bioengineering crisis when Dr. Isabel Caldwell creates hydrocarbon eating bacteria that she uses to clean the oceans of spilled oils and plastic detritus, and the new genetic modification technology spawns a body-mod industry. But the HCE bacteria become a plague on our planet, destroying the fossil fuels that our economy depends on faster than we can replace it. In despair, Dr. Caldwell commits suicide after handing over her bacteria data. After this, humanity enters a period of limited resources when people return to small local farms and live a more sustainable, subsistent lifestyle. On these farms the Gratz family grows corn for the husks, which are bacteria resistant, and marry into the Caldwell family, whose youngest, Susie, becomes a famous singer.

In the Lunar Years, humanity begins to settle within the moons of the solar system, establishing Gratz station as the first permanent lunar settlement. L.U.N.A (Lyrical Universe Navigation Agency) tests an instant bio-dome project on the moon, and then humanity builds settlements on the moons of Jupiter & Saturn. Before long, the Great Migration begins, when humanity sends fleets of generation ships to distant stars likely to sustain life. The Luna gets separated from it’s fleet due to a navigation glitch and is lost. Another Dr. Caldwell discovers a habitable planet and joins a mutiny aboard the Phoenix when Commander Nikolai Luna refuses to allow anyone to explore or attempt to settle there.

Eventually, families do leave the ships and begin settling the planets they find, founding dome cities to protect them from the harsh climates. One enclave learns to domesticate creatures they call space whales, with a magical ability to bear untold burdens and travel through the vacuum of space. When a supernova threatens life on the new system, the people of Caldwell City escape with help from the space whales, which leads to the loss of technology and technical know-how, as life among the space whales takes on a clannish nature. People have already begun to learn the songs of the whales before the various clans join in a great Conclave to reunite and bring order to the disparate human diaspora.

Our story ends as humanity begins to settle together on a New Eden, a planet in which they can live without their technological protection, but under the sky as their ancestors did. The children learn epic songs telling how humanity, and their own families, came to New Eden, and a shrine is built to Dr. Isabel Caldwell, the primeval god who set in motion humanity’s liberation from technology.

No Casino Boundaries

Tonight we played No Boundaries by Marc Hobbs in a bookstore inside the Luxor casino in Las Vegas. We arrive in the morning for New Year’s Day and commiserate about our evenings. Aspiring model and store cashier Nick had gone to a swanky party. Former soccer pro and store gift wrapper Raul had stayed in watching a replay of an old Man U-Chelsea match. Ivanna, the store’s storyteller and a would-be YouTuber, had stayed home with her family. Secret revolutionary and cashier Beatrix had spent the evening monitoring the police scanner. And receiving clerk and weight-lifter Xander had gone to a working class party with the other gym rats.

We start the year off learning that corporate wants us to push a membership card program with the national winners for best sales winning an all-expenses paid trip to Vegas for an awards ceremony. In preparing the store for sales, Xander pumps boxes of books over his head helping a store shelver to create book displays above the shelves. Beatrix spends her breaks complaining about the capitalist inanity of the program, but Ivanna convinces her that they should promote a Book Con to improve sales. Raul convinces Nick and Xander to create a viral video of them wrapping books as a way of promoting the memberships. Nick and Beatrix keep escalating their sales techniques with one shopper who is looking to get a Harry Potter book for his daughter and eventually sells him 10 cards for less than the price of one. And Ivanna can stop chattering about how beautiful Nick is while they put up displays for Book Con together.

Red stick figure stands in front of bookshelves loaded with book with section heads stating "Business" and "Failure".
Image courtesy of Less Than Three Games from Itch.io

Corporate’s next big idea is to cut down on expenses as they start charging employees for using electricity and toilet paper and clamping down on bathroom breaks. Beatrix starts off complaining with Ivanna and Raul about the new rules, but Raul shrugs it off by suggesting they use his wrapping paper or pages from old paperbacks instead. Nick goes out to the loading dock and takes a workout break with Xander, and they share their concern for the well-being of everyone under these new rules. Ivanna catches Raul taking her lunch again after a smoke break and, after much debate, agree to split and share the meal prep, with Ivanna taking the first month and Raul the next. Raul next goes to talk to Xander honestly about how upset he was when Xander wrestled him to the floor because he’s still rehabbing his knee and hoping to return to the pitch.

Before Raul has to cook any meals for Ivanna, the store closes down and everyone goes their own way. Before we do, Beatrix confesses her secret desire to become a modern-day Robin Hood and bring down the capitalist swine who run the casinos. Ivanna ends up on unemployment, crying at home. Raul returns to soccer as best he can. Nick decides he needs to improve his legs if he wants to make it as a model and joins a gym for some legwork. And Xander sneaks off with a couple of boxes of books that he sells for money to throw a beer party on New Year’s Eve.

For the Crown

In the Amago nation, Queen Diana has ruled over these forested hillsides and valleys riddled with gold and silver mines for several decades. In recent years, she’s suffered from the corona genetic defect that afflicts her bloodline and several figures vie for position to succeed her. Sir Reginald has been the chief administrator for Her Majesty and been running the country for a few years as the Queen convalesces. A member of a reptilian species named Leona claims to share an ancestor with the Queen and to be free of the genetic defect that afflicts the Queen. The Queen’s uncle Joe King has served as her jester but is of the royal line and never showed signs of the genetic disease. The Queen also has a much-younger adopted brother named Minos who has just returned triumphant from a far-off war.

Screenshot of For the Crown game page with description of the game.
Image from For the Drama.

Our story begins with Sir Reginald arranging a carriage accident in the forest to kill Joe King, but he survives and now knows to fear Sir Reginald’s power. Joe is resentful of Minos for having taken the ancestral sword that Joe once wielded with him to the war, but that doesn’t stop Minos from bringing the three of them together to conspire against the reptilian Leona. The trio plan to have the Queen send her into the far northern mountains to get rid of her. Leona left her family behind to serve the Queen and often regrets life in this cold place, but knows that if she can regain the throne for her people that it will all be worth it. Minos learns that Leona plans to rule alongside humans when he converts the high priest who had been her ally to his cause.

In retribution for the assassination attempt, Joe King forges an alliance with a neighboring kingdom to undermine Sir Reginald by disrupting the trade routes and raiding our caravans. Sir Reginald is too busy running things to spend time with the Queen or notice the machinations around her. Leona argues that the matrilineal line must not be broken, but Minos counters that times have changed and so can our traditions. Minos hides his guilt over the death of the Queen’s son, who should not have fallen protecting him. Joe was long the Queen’s favorite at court because he was so jovial, but he made too many jokes about regicide and the Queen became more enamored of the chef who cooks such delicious food for her. Leona spends much time reminiscing with the Queen about her visits to the reptilian homeland far to the south.

Reginald moves again and frames Minos for failing the protect the ore shipments raided by Joe’s ally. Joe’s rivalry with Sir Reginald goes back to their youth when a stupid mistake on a trade mission costs Joe’s brother his life. Leona makes a bold move by kidnapping Reginald’s niece and forces him to teach her the affairs of state. It’s been so long since the people have seen Her Majesty that they believe Sir Reginald holds her hostage, but he allows it to keep her illness a secret. Joe remains resentful toward Minos for his military experience and grandeur, but Minos refuses to return the royal sword to Joe because it belongs to the crown and not to any particular wielder.

Leona believes that the kingdom is in decline since the Queen fell ill. Joe appoints the physician attending the Queen, but cannot bring himself to ask the doctor to hasten her death. Minos seeks an alliance with Joe to support his claim since they two are the only true relatives of the Queen vying for the crown. And at last the Queen passes, and each of our contenders makes their moves. Sir Reginald tries to continue manipulating the levers of power as if nothing has changed, Leona makes an impassioned plea based on her people’s legends and family tree. Joe just wants to a power player and supports Minos’s claim. And Minos plays the war hero and rallies the people and military to proclaim his name. He assumes the throne and becomes the new ruler.

On the Selene Archipelago

This week we played Archipelago by Matthijs Holter on the planet Mylar, which lies on the route of the Selene from Final Voyage of the Selene. We are Rosie Carson, aka The Peddler, an archeologist and criminal trader in relics who provides information to Hanz Burton a detective newly arrived on Mylar to investigate the death of local politician Fil Dash, uncle of Alen Dash, whose family and local pride lead them to guide the many tourists who visit the Cliffs, which has a view into the interstitial spaceways.

In Act I, the Peddler Rosie Carson meets with Hanz Burton at the Red Carpet Lounge after his arrival on Mylar via long-range pod. They discuss the plans for Mylar to become a trade hub and who might benefit if that were disrupted. Detective Burton next goes to Heaven’s View resort at the Cliffs to question Alen Dash about their uncle’s death. Uncle Fil had fallen, somehow, through the rift into interstitial space, but before that had been staying at the Margle Mansion near the Salt Sea. Alen Dash next goes to meet Prof. Carson at her Argos University office to discuss Farthing’s theories that the Cliffs were constructed by the Ancients who once lived on Mylar and built the sleek Monument where archeologists continue to dig and investigate.

In Act II, Detective Burton serves a warrant to the head of community security to gain entrance to the Margle Mansion. He learns that Margle Enterprises is the largest company and employer on the planet, finds the body of Mr. Margle with its throat slashed, documents related to his business and real estate dealings, a torn flag of Mylar, and a one-way ticket for the Selene. Next, Alen Dash finally visits the Monument, aided by Prof. Carson. They notice that the monument profile resembles the Cliffs themselves and find a hidden button activated by Alen’s Mylynial DNA. Walking down the seven-sided tunnel to a broad chamber, they discover a song engraved on the walls in an ancient Mylynial script and an oversized ocarina sitting on a pedestal. Finally, the Peddler is approached by a Consortium capo to serve as smuggler getting the goods from a planned heist onto the Selene and into the care of Lt. Kazarian. To ensure loyalty, the Consortium shows Carson live footage of goons outside her parent’s house and imply something could happen if she steps out of line.

In Act III, Detective Burton again meets with the Peddler Rosie Carson to put all the clues together. Uncle Fil and Margle were working to make Mylar a central trading hub but couldn’t get the Selene to take their Mylenium nuclear power generator onboard. They had tried to secure an alternative shipper to make a stop at Mylar when they both turned up dead. Burton is convinced that the local police are working with the crew of the Selene to maintain the Selene’s monopoly on Mylynial trade. Later, the Peddler Rosie Carson goes on the heist job, prepared to transfer the cargo to the Selene, but something goes wrong. The building bursts into flames, the crew comes stumbling out with the prize, and they all go careening through the streets trying for the spaceport but crash along the way. Rosie barely escapes with her life. Finally, Alen Dash arranges the Ancient’s song to be sung by a choir while they accompany on a replica of the Ancient ocarina. As the choir sings and the song echoes across the Cliffs, the entire edifice begins to rise into the sky. The Cliffs are, in actuality, the full size version of the device which the Monument of the Ancients is but a model.

The Google drawing of our map with the large monument replacing the Cliffs.

In the epilogue, we each go our own way. Hanz Burton finally leaves Mylar as a bartender aboard the Selene. Rosie Carson tries to cover her tracks and make everyone believe the Peddler died in that crash. And Alen Dash continues to study the history of their planet and the newfound controls for the rift to interstitial space that reside in the full-size Monument that was once the Cliffs.

For the Band

This week, we played a pair of games on For the Drama, a sweet game for children that could perhaps use another round of development called The Cat is Missing and a band on the tour before breaking up story called For the Band by Marie-Anne Cledan. In the later, our band was the boy band called the Alley Cats, which consisted of three members: bassist and bad boy Jaden, lead singer and guitarist Chad, and cat furry and electric accordionist Bernie. We were the support team of the group: driver Sheila, make-up and costume designer Donna, sound guy Tony, and venue booker Danny.

Sheila takes singing lessons from Bernie and writes a song about the open road that the band sings as if she might be a member, too. She knows that Bernie is the key to bands popularity, so she clips his and other members hair to give to the fans on the road, especially at the high school performance that was the hottest show of the tour. She originally became the groups driver as a way of hiding her love child with Bernie from the press and the fans. By the end of the tour when it seems the band will break up, she and Bernie are ready to confess the truth and be parents together of their now teenaged child, especially if it will save the band.

Donna does a good job and stays professional, but tells the paparazzi that one of the members used to run motocross to keep them mollified without betraying the group. She creates a tiff when she sides with temperamental Chad in a dispute over which of the members is better looking despite knowing that Jaden takes that crown. After she later comments on how warmed over Jaden looks due to a hangover after a rough night, Jaden won’t give her the time of day. Toward the end of the tour, she mockingly sings “yeah, yeah, yeah” into the live mic as the band does, and she tried to play it off as testing the equipment when Danny asked about it. She’s ready to move on and let the band dissolve by the end of the tour.

Tony gets his job as the sound guy almost entirely through luck when he steps into the role after the previous guy leaves the group. He doesn’t actually know how all the equipment works, but knows how to set the machine to the same settings that worked for the previous guy. Danny keeps his secret but resents the great appreciation that leads the band to give him a plaque for making them sound so good. Tony shares a luxury room with Jaden one night and learns about his secret crush on Chad. He always wonders whether the song about never letting you out of my sight that Jaden sings is really about Chad. When he thinks about quitting before he’s found out, Bernie comforts him and convinces him to stay. But when the band decides to break up, Tony decides he should go to school to learn the skill he’s always pretended to have.

Danny was fired by the band once after Jaden got upset about some small dressing room requirement that wasn’t provided. While away he booked for a Crosby, Still & Nash cover band and did such a good job that Alley Cats finally took him back. He continues to sabotage Jaden throughout the tour, leaving one small thing off at every stop to wheedle the guy. He is ready to finally leave the tour when the Bernie fans knock him to the ground after the show, but his dislike of his family keeps him away and on the road. He advised the band to finally make their White Album cover, but the band ignored him as usual. He’s already proved he can do just fine without them so doesn’t lift a finger to keep them together when they band talks of going their separate ways.

Maging Against Machines

This week, we played another session of Mage Against the Machine by Jordan Palmer with a different crew and cast. We are a group of mages who must travel back in time to prevent an otherwise unstoppable robot apocalypse, despite the damage that may do to reality and our own lives.

After our travels and interventions the apocalypse is voided but so are some of our personal histories. River’s cherished childhood memory of visiting a circus with his family turns into grief as tiny robots injure the crowd due to changes caused when Camile casts Twitchy and overrides the local AI programming. In another moment, Leopold casts Cheesy to bring pizza to a hungry family so Aster’s memory of playing with blocks with her mother remains intact and unchanged. In the new timeline, John never meets his wife through an online dating app because Aster casts Repulsive to make the app’s chatbot so unpleasant that no one uses it. And Leopold never reunites with his brother after Camile uses her shapeshifting abilities to infiltrate the prison where Mika, his revolutionary brother, is being held so he can return to lead the anti-AI movement.

An insectoid robot towers over three wizards in a circle casting a spell with Mage Against the Machine emblazoned overhead.
Mage Against the Machine cover art by Matthew Warwick courtesy of http://murderpub.com/.

River retains untouched his memory of meeting a beautiful girl with a halo of red hair on the day an AI bus driver glitched and attacked passengers after Aster casts Grounded to reset the driver’s AI and reground them to basic protocols. John’s memories of winning at the battlebot fights that helped the AI.net surpass all other forms of entertainment are inverted into shame at losing in the fights after Leopold casts Cagey to prevent the AI from ever noticing the fights. Camile’s memory of learning shapeshifting from her Grandmother had been a source of pride, but after John casts Reimaged to prevent a bionic arm from killing a king, it becomes a source of shame because her Grandmother had failed to take action when a similar incident had occurred long ago.

Aster’s memories of coming a wizard are lost as is Aster’s magic abilities as a consequence of our meddling in the timestream, and Leopold’s memory of becoming an ambassador becomes a source of shame for having collaborated with the AI regime. Camile’s memory of joining the city rescue mission and saving the life of a girl remains cherished and unchanged in the new timeline.


Tonight we played Palanquin by Jason Pitre with a full complement of Bearers successfully escorting the Heir to an overthrown queendom, Princess Ulkualzi, to her Aunt Baru’s house. In order to escape the palace, Illic the Shadow convinces a patrol of soldiers searching for the princess that we too were part of the coup and haters of the royal family. When we emerge from the secret tunnel, we find a police brigade blocking the exit. Malani the faithful tries to obscure our escape with shadow, but we’re too noisy and Periani the Hunter unsuccessfully tries to convince the police they’re needed to quell the unrest in another part of the palace. Finally, Ulu the Veteran takes matters into her own hands and cuts through the brigade with skill and ease. As we emerge from the castle, thousands of unquiet souls of the long dead rise up from the castle to threaten us, but Malani the Faithful steps forward again and puts the spirits to rest through a prayer that washes over them in blue light.

A dark-skinned woman in a cloak with an upraised hood glares off to the left in front of a fiery moon. Palanquin a roleplaying game of escape & trust is printed on the right side.
Image courtesy of Genesis of Legend Games.

After we enter the Purple Jungle, we’re threatened by giant jackals. Illic the shadow tries to throw them off our scent by creating a false trail but there are too many of them. So, Thanalor the Magister weaves a spell that reverses time and turns the jackals into harmless pups who accompany us on our journey. Next we encounter native wild ones who worship Devotita, but Periani the Hunter travels with the rare magical beast that is the symbol of Devotita and, being born with her mark, convinces the natives to lead us through the jungle growth. As we come to the jungle’s edge, a band of brigands seeking to ransom the princess to the coup-leaders surround us. Illic the Shadow attempts to outflank the brigands but the brigands cordon is not breached. Periani the Hunter then uses their magical companion to open a gap that allows us to slip past the brigands and escape to the Holy River.

As we pass through the village at the mouth of the Holy River, we learn that the temple at its center contains a powerful magical artifact that would endanger the princess if the priests complete their ritual. Illic the Shadow slips inside the temple to steal and replace the artifact, but a priest simply walks up to him and takes it back. Malani the Faithful sacrifices a jackal pup in the river and chants a spell to imprison the priests within their own minds, but the temple’s defenses dissipate his magic before it can take hold. Ulu the Veteran storms the temple, but her blows do not injure the priests, so she retreats in frustration. Periani the Hunter leads us to the river so we can escape, but the fisherman guarding the boats notice us and sound the alarm. The Heir decides to take the matter head-on, as we’ve done effectively throughout the journey, and walks up to the head priest and challenges him to take her or let her go. When the priest accepts and grabs her, Tanalor the Magister must save her by casting a spell that infuses the temple’s statues with demonic energy. The statues destroy the temple and carry the artifact back with them to hell, freeing the princess.

Finally safe now at Aunt Baru’s house, Princess Ulkualzi weighs the loyalty and contributions of each of her Bearers. She gives Illic the Shadow a steed and a week’s rations and suggests he use them. To Periani the Hunter, she offers a favor to be fulfilled at a future date. Malani the Faithful is allowed to stay with Aunt Baru for a month before he must return to the capital. Ulu the Veteran is rewarded for her long service with enough gold to retire in peace. And Thanalor the Magister is given the Heir’s sincere thanks.

An Especially Bloody Final Voyage

Tonight we reconvened online to play Final Voyage of the Selene by James Mullen. We begin by seeing how each of us originally boarded the ship. Ambassador Masiri, flanked by security personnel, races to board the Selene, leaving a killing field of bodies behind on a planet bathed in the light of a red giant star. Lt. Kazarian stands among such a wasteland surrounded by the bodies of her comrades in arms, swearing to seek revenge for their deaths before becoming security on the Selene in her search. Professor Carris meets with his old student Dr. Tsien about joining them as a passenger on the Selene in order to study the substitial space the exists between the nodes. Juve Jax Mahler, a scavenger on a war-decimated planet, slips aboard the Selene when it stops for spare parts. Adam Pryce touchingly bids farewell to his mother and his homeworld a dozen years ago, and proves his strength aboard the freighter by working his way up to Chief. Doctor Tsien works at a hospital caring for children but leaves abruptly to join the Selene as their colleagues look on baffled.

In Act One, our dramatis personae get to know one another. Chief Pryce and Doc Tsien talk of sports and the captains of the Selene, who may need replacing. Juvenile Jax Mahler learns of the stellarnet from Prof. Carris and confesses he stowed away aboard ship. Ambassador Masiri and Lt. Kazarian bond over the costs of war and the need for peace over dinner. Dr. Tsien takes Juve Mahler under their wing and ask the youth to check out the contents of the cargo bay. Lt. Kazarian discuss the rumors of a stowaway and the exigencies of love with Chief Pryce before running into Juve Mahler, who they fail to identify as the stowaway. Prof. Carris discusses how stymied is his research with Dr. Tsien and Ambassador Masiri, who can’t help mentioning those slaughtered in war, even at dinner.

In Act Two, Dr. Tsien is discovered rummaging through the cargo bay by Lt. Kazarian and convinces her that they’re looking for evidence of smugglers. Juve Mahler is caught in the bowels of the ship by Chief Pryce, who ends up teaching the boy everything about the ship in a montage that ends with the discovery of the captain dead in his cabin. Prof. Carris erects a complex instrument on the observation deck to study a tear forming in the fabric of substitial space that draws the attention of Ambassador Masiri. He learns that the Ambassador turned his mate into a poisonous weapon before leaving her behind in order to ensure her fidelity, or at least his revenge upon anyone with whom she might be unfaithful. Lt. Kazarian and Ambassador Masiri meet and share a moment before Juve Mahler comes and confesses to having manufactured the machines that massacred her patrol at the Battle of Frakus. The Lieutenant tells Juve that he’ll need to testify to what he knows and takes the Ambassador back to her room. Chief Pryce has assumed command after the captain’s death and Dr. Tsien has proof, they say, that Lt. Kazarian poisoned the captain, so they rush to her room to quarantine the soldier and confront the Ambassador about his secrets.

In the Epilogue, the tear in space sends the Selene hurtling out of substitial space into a crash course with Earth. The Ambassador releases Lt. Kazarian, who accepts Masiri’s alien infection, from quarantine and they use an artifact to escape the crash together. Chief Pryce sacrifices himself to save the lifepod the others have all escaped to. With his dying breath, he successfully converts Juve to his own faith. Doctor Tsien does not make it back to Earth, finally succumbing to the disease that sent them aboard the Selene to seek across the galaxy for a cure. Not long after landing safely on Earth, ancient Professor Carris reports to the intelligence bureau all the information he has gathered about the alien infection Ambassador Masiri carries and the mass killings he’s perpetrated in his missions of peace. Juve Mahler not only converts and makes it to Earth aboard the same lifepod as the others, but also becomes a wealthy, bestselling author. Many years later at an author reading, he hears the words of forgiveness he has long wished for from a much-changed, now-alien Lt. Kazarian.