Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Delloran Revisited

Here's the next installment of  Jim Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey. The earlier posts in the series can be found here.

"Delloran Revisited (Metamorphosis Odyssey Chapter VII)"
Epic Illustrated #4 (Winter 1980) Story & Art by James Starlin

Synopsis: Aknaton and Vanth arrive on Delloran, a once thriving world devastated by the Zygoteans. Vanth doesn't understand why they're here instead of taking the fight to the Zygotean menace. He also hasn't heard Aknaton's plan for how they're going to defeat them.

Aknaton tells him that the Osirosians created a device called he Horn of Infinity. "When the device is activated, the threat of the Zygoteans will end." Aknaton doesn't know where the Horn is. To protect it, he gave it to an immortal, artificial being to hide, and that being will only reveal its location when a certain verse is recited to him by an Osirosian. The artificial man was ordered to await an Osirosian on Delloran.

Aknaton's mystic senses quickly located him amid the blasted ruins:

Aknaton tells Joenis he has come for the key. Joenis replies that he still has it. He has protected it for 100,000 years from pirates, demons, thieves, magicians, and Zygoteans. Many have died seeking the treasure. Through all that, Joenis has realized something:

"You know it's secret, then?" Aknaton asks.

Joenis says he does and he admits he thought about destroying the key at times. His programming was too strong, and too, after the destruction of Delloran, he came to see that Aknaton's plan was right. He gives the Osirosian the key, glad to be rid of it.

Aknaton turns to go. Vanth asks Joenis if he wants to go with them, but he declines. When the two visitors have gone, Joenis puts a gun to his head.

Vanth hears the gun fire. Aknaton tells him he saw the pistol in Joenis' bag.

Aknaton tells Vanth he prays that the Byfrexian will be half as worthy as Joenis.

Things to Notice:
  • Again we get hints at the terribleness, but necessity of Aknaton's plan.
Vanth continues to interact with Aknaton very differently than the rest of the characters. To Vanth, he's just another guy, not an object for awe, fear, or reverence.

"Joenis" is probably meant to suggest Jonas, a variant of Jonah. Jonah (Yonah) is the Biblical prophet famous for getting swallowed by a fish/whale. The name means "dove" in Hebrew. Joenis Soule is a "dove," a "peaceful soul" who kills himself rather than go along with what he knows is coming, what Aknaton is planning.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Old Soldier

The military of the Radiant Polity consisted of one soldier, and that man was named Hannibal Tecumseh Early. It was he who held the hyperspace nodes against the tide of 23 Enigma enraged hordes, saving the lives of thousand of moravec citizens; he who smashed the torture gardens of the Algosians and drove them back into the Expanse, and he who was vilified in the noosphere after his heavy handed tactics against the Aomist separatists of Wallach.

Early mostly appears as a steely-eyed, taciturn veteran of late middle years, but when necessary ten of thousands of versions of him were embodied in battleships and war fogs, spy drones and strategic minds. The Early war machine was manufactured to whatever size was needed, but at least one Early was kept in hibernation, as a reserve.

When the Radiant Polity began to disintegrate, Early's military might was turned against himself. Aomist hacks of Early fought to the death against secular ones. He performed interrogations on himself, knowing for certain at what point his resistance would break. In some habitats, memes and conditioned responses extracted from his mind were introduced into the psyches of the populace to ensure unwavering public support for the war effort.

When the Radiant Polity was gone, the Instrumentality of Aom thanked him for his service and requested his seppuku in recompense for his war crimes. Early did as ordered, a soldier to the last.

It's rumored that not all copies of Hannibal Early were destroyed. Balladeers claim that the old solider still hibersleeps in some remote location, his armor and weapons, arrayed around him, waiting.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Banana Republics

I don't mean the clothing retailer, or even merely the political science term in its broadest since, but instead something matching O. Henry's original use to describe his fictional Central America country of Anchuria in Cabbages and Kings (1904). The banana republic then is a sort of sultry colonial companion to the Old World charm of the Ruritania: A fictional, politically unstable Latin American or Caribbean country under the thumb of foreign interests. In gaming terms, it might be the more cynical (and perhaps more interesting) result of the standard D&D endgame.

The real world prototype of the banana republic was Honduras in the late 19th to early 20th Century; a nation that fell more and more under the thrall of U.S. fruit companies. The mercenary army of the Cuyamel Fruit even toppled the elected government and installed General Lee Christmas as commander in chief of the Honduran Army and U.S. Consul. Guatemala in the 1950s shared a similar fate when the elected government was successfully painted as pro-Communist to the U.S. government because they were anti-the United Fruit Company. These examples have the banana republic essentials: greedy foreigners, downtrodden peasantry, passionate revolutionaries, corrupt oligarchs, violent mercenaries, and torrid jungle.

In real-life, adventurers (we could even call them murderhoboes) like William Walker set up regimes pretty much fitting the banana republic mold in the mid-nineteenth century. Unlike the Ruritanian Rogue, your foreign rogue in a banana republic might be a central player in the countries woes instead of just having to deal with them.

Here's a list of fictional Latin American countries. There were a lot of likely banana republics in 80s TV and film, though they weren't always potrayed specifically in those terms. Good examples include Costaguana from Joseph Conrad's Nostromo and Queimada from the film Burn! (1969). Though the Zapata Western (either in its Italian or American form) is always set in Mexico, its themes, roquish characters, and ample chili con carnage are good inspirations for a banana republic based game.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Odyssey Delayed

No new chapter of Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey today on account of illness. Catch up on the old entries and I'll see you next week.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Infinite Earths

This a diagram of "major divergences" of parallel realities in Mark Gruenwald's A Primer on Reality in Comic Books. Things have only gotten more complicated since 1977.

DC has always had more alternate earths, thanks to their desire to explain away continuity errors by saying they took place in another reality (Marvel No-Prizes were simpler), but then Crisis came and they got rid of them all. After a few more crises, they came back though. Check out a list of them here.

Marvel traditionally had very few and didn't give them number (too DC, I guess). In 1983, Alan Moore and Alan Davis did a story for Marvel UK where the main Marvel earth was given the designation 616. Fans ran with that, and from a throwaway line, Marvel parallel Earths got numbers, too. Find them here. Of course, this probably doesn't catalog all the dystopian alternate futures the X-Men wind up in. Those guys just can't catch a break.

Any, I'm sure all of this can be plenty useful for a superhero game.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Send in the Clones

Orphan Black returned for it's second season last night, and I watched a few episodes of the Netflix-only final season of Clone Wars, so I have clones on my mind. Here are a couple of clone-related campaign ideas:

Art by Julie Baroh
Clones Underground
Dungeon exploration is dangerous business, but lucrative. Some wealthy land, ruled by a wizard (or wizards) might contrive to save on the risk (and potential challengers to their rule) by raising alchemical clones of themselves and their own companions to deliver the treasures to them. Using clones easily allows for replacement of dead characters, and the wizard serves as both patron--and perhaps future adversary.

As in "duplicates". Maybe. Mashup the Bourne Identity and Orphan Black and throw it into Night's Black Agents and you've got sleeper clone agents created by an occult conspiracy. The characters must unravel the mystery of their own identity while staying ahead of there pursuers.

Of course, any speculation about vampiric "soul clones" (as put forward by Chuck Loridans, inspired by the events of The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires) is left the GM to indulge in at their own discretion.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Plugs, Shameless and Otherwise

Christopher Helton, tabletop gaming writer for the entertainment site Bleeding Cool debuted his first post on self-published rpgs yesterday, shining it's spotlight on Jason Sholtis's Dungeon Dozen, Jack Shear's Planet Motherf*cker, and my very own Weird Adventures. It was great to be asked to participate. The primary result seems to be more traffic to the Weird Adventures Companion post.  All I can say guys is: It is coming, but I have no ETA. I'm planning to get it out the door after Strange Stars.

In other self-publishing news, Anthony Hunter (cartographer for Weird Adventures) has launched Sleeping Griffin Productions. He's putting out layered pdf maps various sorts for personal or small press use. Check them out.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Graustarkian Karameikos

The Grand Duchy of Karameikos is a small nation in the Balkans on the Adriatic Sea. It has a long history going back to ancient times when the Romans built a fort and founded a trading outpost at Specularum--now Karameikos's capital, Spekla. Since those days, Karameikos has been in the hands of a succession of empires: the Byzantine, the Serbian, the Ottoman, and briefly, the Austro-Hungarian.

The current ruler of Karameikos is Stefan III. He has retained the title of "Grand Duke" despite his nation's liberation from Austria-Hungary. Grand Duke Stefan and most of the nobility trace their families back to Byzantium, but rule over an ethnically mixed populace of Albanians and Serbs, as well as Greeks. The predominant religion is the Orthodox Church of Karameikos, though there are also Muslims and a small number of Roman Catholics.

Believed to be the only photo of the leader of the Black Eagle
One of the greatest threats to modern Karameikos is the terrorist group known as the Black Eagle. The group is vaguely related to Albanian nationalism, but its direct aims seem to be criminality and destabilization of the current government. It's leader is named either Ludwig or Henrich. As his name would suggest, he is said to be of Austrian descent. His primary advisor and bomb-maker is believed to be a former monk named Bargle.

The Mad Monk Bargle, while briefly in custody
This post relates to my previous Ruritanian ruminations--and of course to D&D's Known World.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday Comics: The Meeting

Here's the next installment of  Jim Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey. The earlier posts in the series can be found here.

"The Meeting (Metamorphosis Odyssey Chapter VI)"
Epic Illustrated #3 (Fall 1980) Story & Art by James Starlin

Synopsis: A shot from somewhere takes out two of the Zygotean thugs surrounding him, but Aknaton doesn't have time to think about that. He uses his power against his attackers, but he's not a warrior.

Luckily, a guy shows up who is:

The man exhibits super-strength and Aknaton realizes this must be Vanth. But then where is the sword?

Two of the mercenaries catch up with Aknaton. Vanth again comes to the rescue, but Zygotean reinforcements arrive and surround them both. Vanth drops his gun then raises his hands. He looks as if he might surrender. But suddenly he has a sword in it:

Vanth absorbs the blasts from the Zygotean weapons with the sword, then uses its power to destroy them. Aknaton is impressed. The sword was more powerful than even he expected in Vanth's hands. Even more powerful than he planned:

He asks where Vanth had it hidden. Vanth responds that he didn't hide it. It's a part of him, he can bring out when he needs it. Vanth is about to turn the blade on its creator who he still thinks may be in league with the Zygoteans.

Aknaton assures him he is not. He tells them he has a plan to destroy them, but he needs the help of a warrior to do it. Alone, the the Zygoteans would when, but together they can show the "zyg devils the true face of death."

Things to Notice:
  • When he's not destroying planets, Aknaton isn't all that tough.
  • "My forte is mass destruction," Aknaton says.
"Vanth" is the name of a female chthonic figure in Estruscan mythology, who has been associated with the Furies in the past. It's unclear if there is any connection to Starlin's character, but it would be tempting to connect this Vanth to deities of vengeance.

Vanth is very different from the others Aknaton has recruited. Not only is he tough enough to save Aknaton more than once, but he's irreverent and slangy in his speech. In other words, Vanth is a rather standard American hero. It remains to be seen how he will change the dynamic of Aknaton's rather plaint group.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Old School Art That Isn't

Perusing old comic book fanzines, I found some art of the appropriate vintage and a close enough fit for the style that it made me wish Gary and crew had contacted so young or wannabe comics pros for some D&D art. Check these out:

Don Newton, 1976.

Robert Kline, 1969.

Skip Olson, 1971.

Dave Cockrum, 1972.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ruritanian Rogues

Watching Grand Budapest Hotel yesterday with its farcical criminal doings in a fictional Mitteleuropean country between the two wars got me thinking that such a setting was rife with gaming potential. I suppose "farcical criminal doings" and gaming is a no-brainer, but I mean more the "fictional modern European country in difficult times."

Ruritanian (or Graustarkian, if you prefer) Romance is a genre mostly of swashbuckling adventure set in a fictitious country in Central or Eastern Europe (including the Balkan region). The genre takes it's name from Ruritania, the setting of Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda (1894), one of the most popular examples of it. (The less common name derives from titular setting of James Barr McCutheon's 1901 novel; Some people reserve "Graustarkian" for a Balkan setting only.) These tales are (mostly, though there are fuzzy borders) differentiated from ones set in your Averoignes, Poictesmes, and Lyonesses by being set in "modern" times (to when they were written--meaning 1880s-1930s, roughly), being in Central or Eastern European locales rather than Western, and being mostly adventure tales rather than fantasy.

Still, Ruritanian Romance is part of the DNA of science fiction and fantasy and by extension D&D and a lot of fantasy gaming. Burroughs's Barsoom tales are mostly Ruritanian Romances transplanted to Mars (and Burroughs wrote a couple of pure Ruritanians: The Mad King and The Rider). More than one fantasy or science fiction novel is a reworking of The Prisoner of Zenda. Dr. Doom's Latveria is totally a Ruritania.

I think what would make a Ruritanian type setting more interesting in gaming is to ditch most of the romance of nobles and hidden monarchs and veer toward the picaresque. Political turmoil and nonsensical locale customs would complicate the lives of the usual "murderhobo." There's also influence of the Ruritanian Romance on the "fantasy of manners" subgenre, which could reasonable be said to include many of Jack Vance's works. The loquacious thugs of Tarantino and Ritchie would seem to good models for adventuring types concerned with underworld manners rather than high society.

Here's what I would envision: A Central European microstate (with a few equally fictitious neighbors) somewhere between 1895-1930, where Vancian rogues burglarize Gormenghastian ruins, while avoiding Kafka-esque bueaucracy, ostentatiously uniformed gendarmerie, and fanatic revolutionaries.

For some fantasy in a Ruritanian sort of setting, check out the The Enquiries of Doctor Eszterhazy by Avram Davidson, the Johannes Cabal stories and novels by Jonathan L. Howard, and the post-Cold War version in China Mieville's The City and the City.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Alien Inspirations

The Star Wars cantina scene has a lot of interesting looks for alien species, but doesn't present a lot of different alien psychology. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on what sort of science fiction setting you want to run, but there are some good inspirations for more varied, detailed aliens.

GURPS Uplift details David Brin's Uplift Universe in game terms and also presents a detailed random alien generation method. Also in the realm of GURPS books, GURPS Traveller: Alien Races 1-4 have some good stuff in them.

Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to the Uplift Universe actually details more species than the GURPS book, but doesn't give any game stats, obviously.

Chanur's Venture by C.J. Cherryh is worth picking up at a use bookstore for it's appendix on the species of the Compact alone. All of her aliens are detailed and well-realized.

Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials is an overview of interesting aliens form a lot of science fiction with nice pictures.

Those are just a few, but one's I've found useful and inspirational.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Wings in the Vacuum

by David Lewis Johnson
The voidgliders are a clade once found in several systems in the Vokun Empire, but now confined to one. They are a people adapted to living much of their life in the vacuum of space.

Appearance & Biology: Voidgliders are sleek, elongated humanoids, like the melding of an ocean-adapted person with one raised in zero-g. Their black, solar radiation absorbing skin resembles the hide of a cetacean, and it has markings that glow and reflect ultraviolet light. From their backs they can unfurl giant, black dragonfly wings veined with silver--actually symbiotic "living" solar panels. From these wings, they are able to generate plasma sails, allowing them the locomotion through space that gives them their name.

Sunlight, food, and water are all that voidgliders need for extended stays in space. Radiation exposure is the only hazard that drives them to periodically take haven in cave homes they build in asteroids or dwarf planets. Their nostrils and  throat have membranes which can seal them off. Their eyes likewise have a nictitating membrane for protection.

Their chemical, acoustic, and tactile senses are human-equivalent. They have slightly better visual acuity and can see a wide area of the spectrum from microwaves to ultraviolet. They have specialized apparatus for communication with radio and UV lasers. Radio is used for general communication, particularly with non-voidgliders. They also sing via radio, songs like ancient spirituals, in sounds like a mixture of overtone singing and paleo-electronic music. 

Place in the Empire: The voidgliders were initially primitives of little use to the Empire. While they thrived in zero-g, they were indifferent workers for the most part; they flew off as soon as they got the chance and did not deal well with confinement. When it was determined they had an ability to find hyperspace nodes they became much more useful.

The vokun continue to let the voidgliders live in their clan groups, but they have confined all they could find to a reservation within the asteroid belt of one system. They take volunteers to serve as scouts for their star navy.

Stats: Voidgliders have a minimum Constitution of 9, but otherwise have abilities in the human range. They also naturally have the equivalent of vacc skin and are able to fly in zero-g and outside a strong magnetic field at 120' per round.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Vanth

Here's the next installment of  Jim Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey. The earlier posts in the series can be found here.

"Vanth (Metamorphosis Odyssey Chapter V)"
Epic Illustrated #3 (Fall 1980) Story & Art by James Starlin

Synopsis: On the icy world of Byfrexia (also known as Vega) a masked man spins around to find Aknaton behind him. He mistakes Aknaton for a Zygotean and fires, but the wizard blocks the blast with a shield and returns fire. When the man is at his mercy, Aknaton is finally able to convince the man he's friendly.

Aknaton explains he's been hanging out around the nearby Zygotean base hoping to come across a certain resistance fighter:

The man knows who Aknaton seeks: Vanth, the Cold Man. He refuses to take the Orisirosian to the Cold Man because he doesn't trust the offworlder. Regretfully (or so he says), Aknaton blasts him and takes control of the man's mind. He commands him to lead the way.

While they walk, he gets the man to tell him Vanth's story. Not only is a Vanth a great warrior and super-strong, but he upgraded their ships to photonic drive. The incident that made a man out of Vanth was the tragic death of his parents at the claws of snowbeasts. He went crazy for a bit and people would see him out on the snows naked. When, he finally returned to civilization, he loaded himself down with weapons and started killing snowbeasts. The people who lived on the snowbeasts didn't like him hunting them to near extinction, so Vanth slipped off-world.

After the Zygotean attack, he returned with off-world weapons. He single-handedly set the Zygoteans back months. He was made commander of all the defense forces.

Suddenly, the man is shot in the head, and Aknaton finds himself surrounded by just-teleported warriors:

Aknaton starts fighting, but there are just too many. Meanwhile, a hooded figure watches the melee from a nearby ridge...

Things to Notice:
  • Aknaton doesn't just assert that he's Orsirosian but "of good stock."
Starlin resists the urged to make the masked unknown Aknaton encounter be the very man he seeks.

Vanth's solution to the death of his parents at the hands of a snowbeast (attempting to drive a species to extinction) must appeal to Aknaton. It's not that far from the uncompromising approach his people took to their problem with the Zygoteans and the ruthless way Aknaton "ended" their invasion of earth. Could Vanth be exactly the sort of warrior Aknation is seeking?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Omniversal Access

Yesterday's post got me to thinking about other ways the Marvel Universe could inform the portrayal of the planes in D&D-type fantasy games. In the "standard model" the inner/outer planes are accessed by means of the transitive planes or direct portals.  In the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition, Mark Gruenwald cataloged other dimensions and alternate realities by a method he had initially present in A Treatise on Reality in Comic Book Literature in 1977. If we imagine a sort of random arrangement of planes (throwing out the Great Wheel or the Astral Sea), we can apply Gruenwald's various means of access (leaving out "magic" since all of the ways will be magical):

Vibrational Attunment: This assumes the plane in question is coterminous, but its matter vibrates at a different frequency. In D&D terms, this would mean going ethereal (like via an ethereal jaunt). Plane shift might also work.

Shrinking: Some planes might be microverses. Reaching them would be via spells or magic items that reduce a persons size below visibility by the naked eye.

Astral Projection: Some planes are physical places, but ectoplasmic ones. The spell of the same name comes in handy.

Portal: Some worlds are only accessible by permanent portals found in certain places or by Plane Shift.

Death: Probably the least attractive way of reaching an afterlife realm, but it works. Astral projection is the less permanent way.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


If coterminous or external elemental planes don't appeal to you, here's another idea that takes them in a different direction than the standard view or my previous posts. If we take the classical view that the four elements are the fundamental consituents of all matter, then (as science fantasy has told us at least since Ray Cummings' The Girl in the Golden Atom in 1919) there may very well be worlds inside those tiny particles. Elemental worlds.

Like Microworld, yeah, except that unlike its organic chemistry model look, elemental microworlds look like the platonic solids just like Plato told us they would. 

Maybe the world is on the interior of these shapes or maybe on their strangely-angled surfaces. Either way, they would be pretty weird places. Of course, this also may mean that elementals are microscope--even atomic level things. An elemental summoning would actually be growing a fractional bit of element to macroscopic size. The fact that size creatures have (rudimentary) intelligence might suggest that these microplanes themselves are intelligent. The implications of that, I'll leave you to contemplate.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Brother to Dragons

by David Lewis Johnson
The kuath are a near baseline human people in the territory of the Vokun Empire. The kuath live at an essential neolithic level in coastal settlements. What is most interesting about them is the symbiotic relationship they have with marine invertebrate collective intelligences that the kuath know as Naga Ma--Dragon Mothers.

Vokun probes had suggested a primitive planet with little to offer beyond resources to be stripped away. When their attempts to move the small native population to reservations was resisted by humanoid monsters rising out of the seas, they realized their was something more going on. Destructive scanning of the brains of captive kuath revealed the existence of the Dragon Mothers.

Vokun submarine attacks proved unable to bring the Dragon Mothers to heel. Only the threat of mass driver bombardment finally effected their surrender. The terms of their capitulation was to be paid in slave warriors: bio-armored soldiers.

Appearance & Biology: The kuath are dark-skinned, typically dark-haired, humans with endosymbiotic projections of the Dragon Mothers. (Among other places, these appear to stimulate areas of the brain associated with religious awe.)

The Dragon Mothers themselves are self-organizing colonies (perhaps superorganisms) of single cellular organisms capable of differentiating into a variety of forms. Colonies may extend for kilometers. Their intelligence is vast, but their thought "slower" than humans', and alien. There are numerous "factories" within their mass where they experiment with independent drones and probes of various morphologies.

Place in the Empire: The kuath serve as shock troops for the vokun. The Dragon Mothers found adolescents were best both psychologically and neurologically for serving as soldiers in their armored suits. (The Dragon Mothers appear to care for the kuath deeply, if in an alien way, but do not conceptualize human life as much different than their other creations, except that human's are more independent and therefore interesting.) They reluctantly agreed to provide a quota of soldiers to the vokun to save their world and synthesized a mix of psychoative chemicals for the kuath, both to ensure they fulfilled their role and to minimize their physical and psychological suffering.

Stats: Kuath have ability scores in the human range. Their bio-armor is equivalent to assault armor, but can only be used as a vacuum suit for up to 2 hours, unless specially modified (in which case it increases to 6). The bio-armor requires a dip in a special nutrient bath for at least 2 hours out of every 24 to be at maximum efficiency.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wednesday Comics: Whis'par

Here's the next installment of  Jim Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey. The earlier posts in the series can be found here.

"Whis'par (Metamorphosis Odyssey Chapter IV)"
Epic Illustrated #2 (Summer 1980) Story & Art by James Starlin

Synopsis: In an alien forest, Whis'par's father calls to her. As the winged one most in harmony with their world, she has been chosen to fulfill their race's destiny and serve their god --who now waits at their village.

Whis'par has doubts. She knows what is to come, as do all her people. Her father reassures her, then sends her off to her destiny. Alone, he asks the great spirit to be with her and to forgive them all.

The god of these folk is Aknaton, who waits with Za and Juliet. He tells the uncertain Whis'par that they are there to: "herald the end of galactic madness and the birth of something never before seen under the stars." Each of those he has gathered plays a part:

Coupled with his Aknaton's magic, such a creation would be able to stop the Zygoteans. Whis'par wonders at the cost, and Aknaton realizes she knows his plan. He suggests that to do nothing would be worse.

Za wants to know what they're talking about. Aknaton responds:

Whis'par will join them. She has no choice, really.

Aknaton says he will take them to an out of the way planet to hide from the Zygoteans. He has to go find a man on Vega. Whis'par says she though they were to be a trio. Aknaton replies: "A trio that will need protection."

Things to Notice:
  • The story shifts into color when Whis'par meets her creator.
While we've seen several hints as to the lengths Aknaton will go to to end the Zygotean menace, this is the first hint we have that there may be something frightening about his plan. The reaction of Whis'par and his people certainly suggest it.

As far as executing his plan, Aknaton seems to be stacking the deck in favor of its acceptance in building his "coalition of the willing." He has two beings that almost worship him as a god and an adolescent he rescued from certain death.