Lately there’s been discussion on the Two Hour Wargames forum about the free supplement, “The Magic Door.” This short supplement gives players the ability to take characters from one game setting to another. The mechanics are simple and can fit into any of the game titles from Two Hour Wargames. Anyway, as usual, a story fragment got stuck in my head. And, as usual, I had to stop working on what I should be working on, and write it down. It started with a “what if” question. What if the magic door takes you back to your own past? So this is what popped out:
She smiled as she watched Pearl Lemay lift a green-skinned little girl out of the car seat. As soon as her little feet touched the ground, the little girl ran to the door of the “Palace of Irresistible Delights Brothel.” She watched from across the street taking great care to not be seen. She remained concealed until well after Pearl had returned to the car and driven away. With an even broader smile she stepped out onto the sidewalk. “So, you’re spending the day with Grandmother Chang,” she thought to herself. Days spent with Grandmother Chang were always fun. Her reverie was cut short by the sound of a metallic click.
“Just what do you want with my daughter, Xeog bitch?” hissed a familiar voice.
She raised her hands and turned slowly around to stare down the barrel of a very familiar pistol. She expected Pearl to look angry, instead she appeared cold, calm, and deadly. This caused her to blurt out the one word she knew she shouldn’t use, “Mother?
“Oh shit, I shouldn’t have said that,” she said as Pearl’s expression turned to one of confusion.
“Jun?” asked Pearl lowering her weapon. “How–”
“Magic door, mom. A temporary rift in space-time,” Jun answered. “You weren’t supposed to catch me.” Pearl holstered her pistol. “You believe me?”
“I have to,” replied Pearl. “I got that same weird vibe when I met Katie after she’d been taken from me for over twenty years. I guess a mother always recognizes her children. Tell me more about this ‘magic door’ thing and why did you come here?”
“Sure, mom, do you want to get a cup of coffee? This may take a while.”
Pearl watched with amusement as Jun added three spoons of sweetener to her coffee. “I can see that you never outgrow your sweet tooth,” she said.
Jun laughed. She looked around and took a deep breath savoring the smells of Yanni’s Pancake House. “I didn’t realize how much I miss this place.”
“Well, it is your favorite restaurant at the moment. How old are you now?”
“I’m forty-eight, mom,” replied Jun.
“Then I must be ancient in your universe.”
Jun sputtered and sat her cup down with a clumsy clank
“Ah, I see, now. When did I pass?”
Jun blushed. “Just a few years ago. That’s why I wanted to see you. I haven’t seen you in person since I left home.”
Jun was beginning to tear up, so Pearl changed the subject. “So what do you do, or are you a rift walker now?”
“I’m a free trader with my own ship and crew. We were on Faralda when this magic door opened and we just had to explore it.”
“So what happens to your ship and crew while you’re gallivanting across the time-space continuum? What if they decide they don’t need you and take your ship?”
“Well, that’s not going to happen. My partner Yu is very loyal to me and besides, our children, your grandchildren, wouldn’t stand to have their mother abandoned.”
“Grandchildren?” Pearl asked
Jun beamed a broad smile. “You have two from me and three from Katie. My oldest, Kathleen, is the ship’s astrogator, and my youngest, Pytor, is an engineering wiz.”
“Kathleen? You named her–”
“Yes, we named her after you. It was funny, Yu was going to name her ‘Pearl’ because she thought that was your real name. I think you’d like Yu, though you didn’t like her when you first met. Kathleen looks a lot like you. She doesn’t have green skin. The doctors didn’t think much of the Xeog genetic code was transferred to her. Pytor, on the other hand, is a Grymn like Yu.”
“I guess it would be hard to steal your ship with your family in control.”
“Oh, and there’s one more reason I would never be abandoned, a big reason. Nina lives with us.”
“Nina? She comes back from her mission with COG? And now she lives with you?” Pearl asked.
“Yes, but she, she took your death very hard. Aunt Vivian thought she might lose her sanity. We’ve all heard tales about androids flipping out, the Cyndee thing if you believe they exist. It was Katie who told Nina to go find me. It took her two years to find me.”
“Is she ok?” Asked Pearl.
“She is, momma, but there is a sadness about her at times.”
“Well, let’s not get morbid and talk about my death. It looks like it is many years away anyways. How long are you going to be here?”
“I don’t know. We can’t accurately predict where and when these small rifts occur. Nor do we know where they go. Being free traders, we entered the door hoping to find a new market, or at least to return rich. We were surprised when we ended up on New Hope in the past. Anyway, studies have shown there’s no specific time frame for when the magic door opens for the return trip. It could be a few hours, a few days, weeks, months, maybe even a year. There aren’t any records of magic door journeys longer than a year. We do know the energy signature of these rifts, so we’ll know when the door is about to open.”
“You say ‘we’, how many of your crew came with you?”
“Just one, my first mate. And speak of the devil, there he is.”
Pearl turned and watched a Zhuh-Zhuh approach their table. He grinned and cheerfully said “Hello, Miz L, gosh, I haven’t seen you in forever.”
Pearl looked confused. “Michael, she hasn’t met you yet,” scolded Jun.
“Jun, isn’t there some kind of danger or paradox of doom letting me know this much about the future?” Pearl asked.
“No, because I’ve lived what happened. You never let on that you knew anything at all about the future.”
“Maybe I didn’t know,” said Pearl.
“Except, you did know. Years from now when I leave home, instead of saying the old ‘Farewell until we meet again,’ you said ‘Farewell until you see me again.’ It didn’t make sense to me until you caught me outside of Grandmother Chang’s.
“I’m afraid you two need to say your goodbyes,” said Michael. “The readings indicate the door is going to open soon so we can return to the Pearl.”
“The Pearl?” Pearl asked.
“What? She didn’t tell you the name of the ship, Miz L?”
Jun blushed. “You know I really love you, mom. When I got my ship, I changed the registry and gave her a new name, ‘The Pearl of New Hope.'”
Mother and daughter both rose, hugged, kissed, and wept as they said their goodbyes. On the way out the door, Michael turned back and said “You know, Miz L, ten years from now a neighborhood kid is going to take Jun joy riding in your new car and wreck it. If you can, go easy on them.”