Episode 13: Interlude: Sweet Dreams

Gather 'Round the Trashfires

Jun 15 2024 • 15 mins

The cohort work on next steps toward their goals against their enemies and taking care of their loved ones. Even when sleeping, there's no true rest for a Renegade in hiding.

This is a shorter episode than normal, but something possessed my ST to allow us to do a lot more downtime than usual that week (including allowing Geri 4 Astral Travel dreams) so it was more than would reasonably fit with the next session.

--------

Episode Transcript:

Get your snack and beverage of choice ready.

It’s time to “Gather ‘Round the Trashfires” for a tabletop roleplaying story! I’m your host, Bek Andrew Evans.

My current and main running story for this podcast is the misadventures of the cohort from the Deviant: the Renegades chronicle I’ve been playing in since early 2021. And I play Geri.

For those of you unfamiliar with Deviant, it’s a TTRPG about people who were formerly human but were irreparably changed in traumatic ways to the point their very Souls broke and they became something Other. They seek vengeance on those who made them, those who hunt them, those who seek to exploit them for what they are and will never leave them be.

As such, this podcast will feature heavy themes and content throughout. There’s an overall content warning for language, violence, criminality, homelessness, substance use, human experimentation, cults and religious extremism, mentioned torture, kidnapping, implied incest and incest-related comments, and abusive relationships. On episodes where there is a new content warning or a particularly notable instance of one of these, I’ll call it out.

I hope y’all enjoy hearing about my cohort’s antics and stumbling headfirst into the mysteries of the world as much as I have.

[Music Intro: "_violence" by Avantist]

Green Country Calcination Episode 13: Interlude: Sweet Dreams

After the chat with Cassidy and incident with AJ, the cohort goes back to their daily routines for a week or so. They're primarily focused on tasks to gather information about their shared enemies to plan their next steps, though Geri, Grant, and Robert do significant amounts of household management as well.

The cohort doesn't have many significant interactions with each other in person over the following week - their schedules keep conflicting as they go about their individual tasks. They mostly meet up for shared meals with whoever's available.

That night, after the incident, Geri dreams again about Amanda. She's desperate for clues about her current status and location, though she's well aware she may not like what she finds.

She finds herself watching a scene play out in a cafeteria, a food court in a mall. The images are blurry at first. Amanda's sitting across from Jake. She keeps her hair fairly short and dresses in a butch style, with tank tops, an open over shirt, jeans, and sneakers. Amanda's got fluffy, curly dark-brown hair and light-mid-tone skin from being mixed race. Jake is a very young adult - about 18 - preppy jock that you can tell by looking at him he's got a "bad boy" streak and is probably up to something.

Amanda asks how he connected her to her. Jake says they have their ways, and he just borrowed from that. He continues, asking rhetorically if Geri reached out and weird things happened. He says that's their life now; it's a dangerous life.

Amanda frowns and reluctantly says she understands, but still worries.

Jake pats Amanda's shoulder comfortingly and tells her she can't help Geri, that they'll come for Amanda if they find out Geri reached out. He tells her she needs to keep herself safe.

Amanda nods, and that part of the dream fades to black, like a movie. When it fades back up, Amanda's stepping into the Oklahoma City Airport, staring at her phone. She's dialing a number. Geri's number. Over and over again.

She quietly pleads for Geri to pick up... but there's nothing.

As she finally boards the plane, she gives up. She curses Geri and sighs, whispering that she misses her, too.

That scene fades out and Geri wakes up. She's aware Amanda has close relatives out of state she would be able to stay with.

After the dream, Geri gets a different burner phone from the stash. She was afraid that somehow, her previous one had been compromised.

She again leaves the cabin to make the call, and this time at an odd hour she knows Amanda isn't likely to answer. As she hopes, Amanda doesn't, so she leaves a voicemail.

She doesn't introduce herself, just starts speaking.

"Hey, um, I know this is weird. Let me know if you're safe. Or don't, [stammers] I guess. I'm...

I'm not gonna use this number for anythin' else. Jus' don't trust Jake, or anyone else workin' with the church. I got a way to communicate privately for sure if you want, but I'm not gonna freak you out again. I'm sorry about the call, I just couldn't bear for you to not believe me. Even though this shit's pretty unbelievable [nervous laugh].

[Inhale] Otherwise, uh, I guess let me know if you need help. I'll try to stay far enough away you won't get caught up in anything, least until it's over.

[Stammer] I still love you. Bye."

She goes home and marks the phone with a red stripe of sharpie so she won't use it for anything but contacting Amanda.

And then cries alone.

AJ doesn't come to the group dinners. In fact, he's hardly present at all most of the week. He's gone most of the day and returns late in the night like a delinquent teen.

It's obvious he's still around, at least at odd hours, though, because there's plenty of frozen pizza and burrito wrappers in (and near) the trash can, and he's eating any leftover meals set aside for him.

And, as always, there's the strange garage noises.

At the next grocery run, Geri picks up some pool noodles, though the cohort doesn't have a pool. She sneaks into the garage to leave them anonymously among Zuse's things in the hopes he'll surely find a use for them and maybe AJ will lighten up a little.

Geri wants to help Madi but finds she doesn't know how to research the connections between Charismatic Virtues' inner circle and Cassica Hall. That way they'll know, during the meetup with Father Philip, if his information is good or if he's off base because he's either lying or also in the dark. She has a very weak educational background, to put it lightly, and can barely use computers.

She settles on using Astral Travel to cast a wide net for hints on the connections others with better research skills can follow up on.

Geri dreams of snippets of the memorial for the dead teenagers. The timeline's all garbled and unclear.

At some point - before, during, after? She can't tell where it's suppose to fit in the timeline of events, but she sees a still image of a donation check being handed over between the Church's inner circle and Cassica Hall. It's unclear which direction its being passed.

She also can't tell specifically which members are holding the check, only adding to her confusion.

She wakes up with more questions than answers.

The cohort notice a bizarre story in the news. It's running on the second page of the paper sold in the park's shopping center and throughout Pryor.

It talks about a teenage prank the locals believe is being perpetrated by some ballsy high-schooler who's been impersonating vending machine owners around town.

All the machines that get hit end up having all their skittles and M&Ms stolen as well as about $50 cash each. There's not usually anything else missing.

Another night, Geri decides to dream spy on Camille to see what she's up to and get some clues on her progress in her plans.

Geri finds herself floating in a dark meeting room, granting her a bird's eye view. A number of people Geri doesn't recognize sit silently around the meeting table, with most of their features obscured by the dark. However, Geri can make out there's an older woman with graying hair between an elderly gentleman and a very dour-looking Gabriel Werner.

Geri pays closer attention to Gabe's expression, and finds just a hint of smugness he's hiding very well, but mostly the dour annoyance.

The cause of his annoyance is giving the presentation up front - Camille Mason is smugly referencing still shots of the cohort's minivan speeding out of Robert's neighborhood.

She pauses what she was saying and glances up to the ceiling where dream Geri is observing. She tells Geri 'Bold, but not enough.' Her eyes flash.

Before she gets tossed out of the dream to wakefulness in the middle of the night, Geri catches the slightest smirk from Gabe.

Grant continues throughout the week his normal habit of making an extensive network of deadly traps through the cabin property. It's a whole lot of physical labor, but it keeps him occupied.

He also continues his normal habit of meditating in the morning with his coffee, reflecting about the circumstances, and thinking about Sophie.

On a whim, at some point during the week, Geri attempts to Reconnect with Telepathy to Beth to check on the status of the moved ward - but fails that time. She manages to get a sense that Beth is still alive, but no more than that.

Geri induces a fourth dream this week. This time, she's helping AJ like she promised she would. She's trying to uncover details of his conditioning she's unlikely to uncover other ways, especially with AJ's conditioning being a secret.

Her dream is simple, and for once: peaceful. She dreams of hearing a simple, hummed lullaby - soft, repetitive, and comforting.

There's nothing malicious here, no tests, no sense of training or commands. It's only a gentle lullaby to soothe a child.

Geri wakes up dazed and very groggy.

AJ makes a polite request to the others that their next outing should be checking on his mother. He needs to make sure she's okay given everything that's gone on. He's arranging an outing to a public place to meet her - the local planetarium.

He has a new gadget he's finishing up for the mission!

The others agree to help.

Geri writes in the dream journal reporting to assure that AJ's conditioning was really just a benign, loving lullaby. There was nothing malicious about it and no commands attached.

AJ thanks Geri and is very relieved.

Madison, having access to the journal as well and not being present for the entire debacle with conditioning before, innocently asks what Geri means about AJ's conditioning. She's very concerned.

Geri refuses to explain over the journal.

AJ agrees and says it's going to be a discussion that needs a lot of weed.

This does nothing to ease Madi's concerns. In fact, the opposite. She's kinda freaking out and the dream journal's become pretty derailed.

Late in the week, among all the normal loud noises from the garage, there's a cackle and a loud AJ-shreik demanding to know 'WHY DID YOU PUT THEM THERE?!'

During the week, Madison receives an email while she's out of the cabin doing her computer stuff. She hand-writes it down in her cutesy, curly script and hangs it on the fridge for the cohort.

It says: Hey Madi- Tell your friend Geri that Amanda is safe, although she spooked her real good sending THOUGHTS into her head. Luckily for you all, I gave a number to people I was able to figure out the church knew were close to y'all. So I can get them out of their sight if YOU ALL endanger them by getting too close. I can't bargain for indefinite freedom for them all. Stay safe, Jake

Later in the week, AJ leaves a handwritten reply on the bottom of the page in marker that says "Douchie McDouchenozzle is SUS AF."

[Music Outro: "Time Will Fail Us" by Troigo]

Thanks for listening, This has been Gather ‘Round The Trashfires with Bek Andrew Evans. Please subscribe to this podcast for future updates and leave a review or comment, I’d love to hear what you think. You can follow me on a few different social platforms with the username "bekandrew." That's [spells username] on tumblr and bluesky, mainly.

If you'd like to support me, subscribe to my Patreon at Patreon.com/BekAndrewTTRPG and purchase my art prints and tabletop products, including my Deviant: the Renegades community content novella related to this chronicle via my linktree in the description.

AJ is played by Roen,

Geri is played by me,

Madison is played by Syn,

Robert is played by Pandito,

And our Storyteller is Casey Grant.

The intro theme is "_violence by Avantist" from the Free Music Archive, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0.

The end theme is "Time Will Fail Us" by Troigo from the Free Music Archive, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution International 4.0.

If you like the songs, I encourage you to check out more of their work. I've linked their Bandcamps in the description.

Until next time.



Follow my Patreon at Patreon.com/BekAndrewTTRPG Check out my other work at linktr.ee/bekandrew Check out the Intro and Outro artists' Bandcamps! https://theavantist.bandcamp.com/music https://troigo.bandcamp.com/ Remember to subscribe and see y'all next week!

Support this podcast at — https://redcircle.com/gather-round-the-trashfires/donations