After the Vladimir Putin left the borders of the Gyre and was past the point of turning back, Ryan received a private message from Captain Dilver, which he took a little bit away from the other characters, where he could view it without disturbance. Yesterday we played out the final session of this mini-campaign, but before I write the report of that adventure, here is the content of the message Ryan received, as Ryan’s player was given it.

Message sender: Captain Dilver.
Status: Emergency
Contents: single view video message will delete after viewing.

[NOTE TO PLAYER: If Ryan decides to stop viewing the video halfway through, please screw up the paper and throw it away AT THE POINT where he decides to stop viewing. Be dramatic if this is your choice!]

There is a brief flicker and the video starts. It has sound, and a time stamp on the bottom left. It shows a sea lion floating in water, looking calm. For a moment you think it might be Arashi but then you see it doesn’t have the patch of darkened skin over one brow, it has a scar behind one ear, and it doesn’t have his eyes and flares its nostrils slightly differently.

The camera pans back to reveal that the sea lion is floating in a kind of huge metal tub, perhaps 10 times its size, filled with water up to about 2/3 of the way, with a cage around the top. Strange black metallic rings loop around the metal casing.

The sea lion is floating happily in the water. From out of camera someone throws it a fish, which it catches and eats comfortably. It floats about, showing that casual and uncaring abandon that sea lions have when they’re comfortable. Occasionally it looks at a particular point off camera, suggesting it recognises someone there.

Someone who sounds like Captain Dilver says “Okay” and after a moment the strange iron loops around the capsule begin to glow red. You hear a gasp off camera. The sea lion floats on, rolling onto its back, oblivious.

[1:10]: Apparently it’s a time lapse video. It flicks forward to 1:10. The sea lion is looking a little worried, because in the background someone is making a keening sound and yelling and begging: “This was my fault, don’t do this!” “He had nothing to do with it, let him go!” “You’re a monster Dilver, punish me not him!” followed by Dilver calmly saying “Oh don’t worry, I’ll punish you.”

[3:30]: Soft gasps in the background. The sea lion is floating still, looking worried at the sounds from the gallery.

[7:10]: The iron rings are still glowing bright red. The sea lion is starting to look a little agitated, moving around and sniffing the air and regularly diving to inspect the base of its bathtub. When it comes up it looks quizzically over at the gallery. At one point you hear scuffling, and a grunt of someone being hurt.

[10:10] The sea lion is starting to get really upset now. It is moving around in circles, gasping and splashing, trying to hold its fins above the water, barking occasionally. It has stopped paying attention to the gallery and is focused on its surroundings

[15:00] The sea lion is thrashing now. It tries to crawl out of the water but the sides of the bathtub are too steep. Every time it flops back in it whines and thrashes desperately, trying to look for a different way to escape. After about 10 seconds of video, it shits itself in the water.

[17:00] The sea lion is barking in distress. You can barely hear it though because someone in the gallery is yelling again, close to the camera. The water is starting to bubble, like water in a giant pot.

[18:00] The water is bubbling and heaving now, obviously near boiling. The sea lion is rolling around listlessly, barking and screaming in a way you’ve never heard such an animal scream. In the gallery someone is keening softly, and repeatedly begging Dilver to stop.

The video cuts away. It is replaced by a video of Captain Dilver, looking calmly at the camera. He speaks.

“Hello …” [looks down at a piece of paper] “… Ryan.”

After a moment the background flickers on to reveal a video of three men dragging the supine body of the boiled sea lion out of its tub. They proceed to cut it apart on the decking next to the tub, obviously not wanting to waste anything.

“Thanks for opening this message. Don’t worry, the video’s not Arashi, though I guess you knew that. It belongs – belonged – to another rider called …” [looks down at a piece of paper] “… Virago. He betrayed us. Badly. Rest assured he deserved what he had coming to him.”

“No doubt you think his sea lion was innocent.”

Behind him the sea lion in the video starts twitching. Evidently they didn’t boil it long enough. The guys call out, though you can’t hear them because this video has no sound. They scuffle, then run off. One comes back with a boat hook. After a few brutal seconds they manage to finally kill the poor beast, and resume slaughtering. Dilver keeps talking.

“Now, I have no reason to distrust you or your friends, Ryan, but I thought the same about this …” [looks at piece of paper] “… Virago … but still. You can see what happened. I am a careful man, Ryan.”

“I don’t know what you’re going to find up north, but there’s a very small chance you’ll find a functioning community. If that happens, it’s possible that you or some of your fellows may decide that mutiny is a good idea. Maybe you’ll see a chance at your own little kingdom, and decide to renounce the Gyre and stay up there.”

“I just want to make clear to you what will happen to Arashi if you do that.”

“And more importantly, I want to make it clear to you what will happen if you allow anyone else to betray the Gyre. Don’t let that happen, Ryan, for your sakes and Arashi’s. You’re on your own up there Ryan, but you can still be loyal to the Gyre even if everyone around you is planning something bad. In fact, Arashi expects you to.”
“But even though you’re alone, we’ve still got a bit of help for you. In cargo hold 7B, behind the water reclamation unit under a bunch of old tires, there’s a locked box containing a satellite relay unit. The key to that box has been hidden in your luggage. The relay unit contacts a satellite that passes over the arctic every two days, you can bounce a message to us from there. If you value your sea lion’s life, I would recommend you use that relay box if you think anything unusual is happening. We can send the Gunfather to help you. But don’t rely on the relay box. If people are starting to plan mutiny, I suggest you get to them first and … change their minds.”

“If this mission goes wrong, Ryan, because you let your colleagues let you down, then you won’t just be disappointing me, you will be disappointing Arashi too. And I think you have seen just how disappointed a sea lion can get. So don’t let me down, Ryan, and Arashi will be just fine.”

“Thanks for your time, and bon voyage.”

The video flickers out.