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LARP

Utopie Arcade

Switzerland

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017, 1:20 am

 

 

      Emma and Oliver had been playing their favorite MMORPG (Massively Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game) but stopped at 4:00 to take part in a LARP (Live Action Role Play) that the arcade was holding.  It was a weekly event run by a local LARP group, called ‘Schweizer Leben Tätigkeit Rolle Spiel.’  Each week was different using a story devised by one of the group’s storytellers.

      When Emma and Oliver arrived, they were both handed translator headsets.  In this case, most of the participants would be speaking German, so they needed to conform to the language. 

      The translator looked much like a phone headset.  A tiny microphone near the headphones picked up other people’s words and then translated those words to the wearer’s preferred language.  The voice recording was used to build the sound for translation. Occasionally a word would be missed, but for the most part, it was an excellent invention.

      The translation of the wearer was a bit trickier.  The way it worked was that the wearer would lip sync what they were saying and the machine would identify the words with a camera, instead of a microphone.  On the opposite side of the camera was a speaker where the translation was played back.  Most people have trouble with the lip-synching the first time they try it.  As they lip sync, the words are played into the headphones untranslated.  If anything is missed, the wearer has to try again or find a way to correct the mistake. 

      It looked a bit disturbing to see somebody speak wearing a translator because, as in some poorly dubbed 1980’s movies from Asia, the words did not match the lips.  Some translators covered the mouth to prevent this.  In fact, a rare few were masks that allowed the wearer to talk instead of lip sync because the mask covered the face, but most people felt they were creepy at best.  Unfortunately, the translators could not help the deaf who lip-read. 

      The room where the LARP would take place was fairly large, plain, and barren.  It had several round tables with five to seven chairs each.  At the back of the room was a square table where three of the group’s leaders sat.  On the table were several envelopes in three piles.  When Emma and Oliver arrived, a woman with a black baseball cap behind the table said, “Hi, do you have existing characters to use in today’s game?”

      Oliver shook his head and started to say no, but then cut himself short remembering he was wearing a translator and so he lip-synched no.  Oliver’s translator said, “Nein.”

      The woman said, “Do you want to play German, French, or Italian?”  When Emma and Oliver seemed unsure the woman added, “We usually need Italians.”

      Emma said, “Sure, sounds good.”

      The woman handed them each an envelope from one of the piles.  The envelope Emma got said Italian female. The envelope Oliver got said Italian male.  They thanked her and went to a table, with an Italian flag, to read the contents of the envelope.

      Inside of each envelope was a page.  At the top, they both said:

 

      Please keep your character information to yourself.  If you are new and have a question about your character please ask a teammate or a storyteller, but give only enough information for your question to be answered.

     

      The English section of Emma’s page read as follows:

 

Country: Italy

Name: Orsina Gallo

Job: Italian Secret Service agent, Double agent for the German SS

 

Attributes:

Intelligence: 10  Strength: 4

Dexterity: 5                   Endurance: 9

Charisma: 8

 

Special Skills:

Lock pick x2

Mesmerize x5

Sharpshooter x3

Surveillance x6

 

            You were born in Italy in 1903 and moved with your family to Germany in 1914.  After you finished getting your mandatory schooling, you spent years trying to get by on your own but had to rely on your family to pay your way.  In 1934, you meet Heinrich Himmler who personally recruited you into the SS-Totenkopfverbande (Order of Death’s Head).  In 1935, you were sent back to Italy to become a double agent in the Italian Secret Service.  With your SS training, and the help of some other double agents, you easily become an agent of the Italian Secret Service.

            You only trust other members of the Order of Death’s Head with your identity.  So far, none of them has revealed your true identity.  To insure any contacts are members of the Order of Death’s Head ask them, “How’s the weather in Berlin?” The correct reply must be “It’s been raining for years but the rain will soon freeze to leave nothing but ice.”  As a member of the Italian secret service, you have been asked to monitor and debrief agents from France and Germany. 

            Also, be wary of a Filippo Lombardi.  He seems to be aware that you are not an ordinary agent. 

 

      The English Section of Oliver’s page read:

 

Country: Italy

Name: Filippo Lombardi

Job: Italian Secret Service

 

Attributes:

Intelligence: 8                Strength: 5

Dexterity: 7                   Endurance: 9

Charisma: 7

 

Special Skills:

Lock pick x1

Sharpshooter x3

Surveillance x6

Linguistics x9

 

      You were born in 1910.  You joined the Italian secret service in 1933.  You spent several years in France analyzing their military strengths and weaknesses. Most of the information you gave to your government was forwarded to the Germans.

      You personally have a strong distrust of Germany, mostly because you felt it was Italy’s place to attack France and that Germany is not evenly distributing the war effort with Italy, which will mean fewer rewards for your motherland.  You are strongly devoted to your country and the war.

      You have recently met a colleague named Orsina Gallo, who looks remarkably similar to an SS agent in a picture with Himmler that you have seen.  You strongly suspect she is a double agent, but to what ends you have not decided.  If you decide to expose her, you have found out that the SS agents have been told to ask, “What is the weather like in Berlin?”  The appropriate response is, “It’s been raining for years but the rain will soon freeze to leave nothing but snow.”

      Noël Belcher is a double agent in the Vichy government.  You are one of the few people that know he is actually working for the Italian government.  To debrief him and assure he is the correct person you must ask him, “What is your favorite type of cigar?”  To which he must reply, “I don’t much fancy cigars.  I’m more of a peace pipe man.”

 

      After Oliver and Emma finished reading Emma said, “So, who does it say you are?”

      Oliver shook his head, “You need to wait for the game to begin.”

      “Oh, come on.  Just tell me the character name!”

      “No,” he said, and then stuck out his tongue.

      Before Emma could say anything more, one of the women running the LARP said, “May I have your attention please?”

      After the room became silent, and even the noisy teens in the back stopped talking she continued, “Welcome all players, new and old, to our weekly live action role-play.  How many of you are new, and by new I mean new to this game, not new characters?”  About one-fifth of the people in the room raised their hands.  “OK, for those of you that are new, please do not share any character information, including skills or special knowledge with other players, even if they are part of your country. There are a few double agent characters and a handful of triple agent characters.  If you have a question please ask a storyteller or an NPC out of character. If it’s a very limited question about a skill or attribute, feel free to ask a trusted teammate.  Also, if you are new or have a new character please remember that some of the characters have misinformation. 

      “The NPCs, or non-player characters, all wear green baseball caps.  The storytellers wear black baseball caps.

      “I won’t get into the details of the overall game.  This you can ask anybody including players of other countries.  I will, however say that today’s date is October 24th , 1942.  You are all at a party held by Nazi General Erwin Rommel in neutral Switzerland. The building you are in is a German embassy.

      “The only other thing we need to mention is that in this game a skill cannot be used on anybody with the same skill at a higher level.  To use it on a person with the same skill level you must play rock, paper and scissors.  The defender wins in the case of a tie.”

      At this point a man with a black baseball cap stepped out to add, “Also, for new LARP players if you need to speak out of character, meaning about the game or the real world, raise your hand with crossed fingers.”  He showed an example by raising his right hand and crossing his middle and fore fingers.  “If you are locationally challenged, meaning in a private room that uninvited guests may not enter, make an L to signal this status.”  He then raised his right hand again forming an L using his thumb and forefinger.

      “Now, without further ado, let the game begin!”

      When he was done, everybody started talking.  Though it was unnoticeable to Oliver and Emma with the translators, many of the more experienced players began to use accents that were appropriate for the country they came from.  Emma and Oliver did however notice that some of the other players were wearing outfits appropriate to the period.  A few of the Germans even had SS uniforms.

      Emma turned to Oliver and said, “NOW may I know your name?”

      Oliver bowed and said, “Of course, my lady, I am Filippo Lombardi, Italian secret service.”  When Oliver said his character’s name, she was taken by surprise, but was able to keep that surprise to herself.  He held out his hand offering to shake hands.  When she met his hand with her own hand instead of shaking it, he brought it to his lips and lightly kissed her fingers.  “I hope we are well met, Miss.  May I have your name now?”

      She blushed, which seemed silly since he was her husband.  “I’m . . . I’m Orsina Gallo.”  He looked stunned as she asked, “Have you heard of me?”

      “Only as a fellow colleague, and have you heard of me?”

      “Yes, and for the same reasons.  I hope we are well met as you suggested, Mr. Lombardi.”

      “Please, Miss Gallo, call me Filippo.”

      She bowed her head in acceptance, “Filippo then.  But please, call me Orsina.  Not to be modest, but I do believe my parents gave me a beautiful name.”

      “Indeed, you are correct, as they did.  I believe it’s quite an appropriate name for such a lovely lady.”

      Emma smiled and said, “Well, aren’t you the charming one?”

      Oliver said, “Well, I try.” After a pause he said, “We should probably mingle.  I’m sure the general’s other guests are jealous I’m keeping you to myself.”

      Emma almost laughed but said instead, “Well, I have enjoyed your company but do agree we should mingle. Certainly I should allow you to charm the other women.”

      With a wry smile he said, “I doubt I’ll find another woman on this planet that I would prefer to charm, so I find it very unlikely there will be one in this room.”

      Both spent their time apart trying to design a way to deal with the other.  Neither of them wanted a confrontation but it seemed inevitable.  Emma was at least pleased at how charming Oliver was acting.  Why could he not act like that in real life?

****

      They went their separate ways meeting the other players.  The translators fumbled frequently with some of the veteran French players because of their accents.  The Italian’s never posed a challenge to the translators.

      The storyteller had not lied when she said they needed Italians.  Italy was probably the dullest of the countries.  There were a few, however, and unlike Oliver and Emma, those other few were in the military, not the secret service.

      The German group seemed to be slightly larger than the French group.  Perhaps it was because the area was German speaking.  The Germans seemed to be a mixed bunch made of military, SS, and even a few elder Nazi party members.

      They both quickly discovered that the French characters were all collaborators, most of whom were members of the Vichy government.  Of course, maybe that was just the characters’ outside appearance.  Oliver found and met Noël Belcher, whom he knew was a double agent.  It was likely that some of the French were also part of the French Resistance, possibly even British or US spies. 

      As Oliver was about to try to debrief Noël, the door in the back of the room slammed shut.  All the players turned to find that a group of military-dressed Germans, wearing disillusioning green baseball caps, had entered the room.  At the head of the Germans was a man who all assumed without a doubt was playing Rommel.

      Rommel went to the back of the room to the square table.  His German colleagues followed at his heels. When they reached the table, the Germans spread out, keeping Rommel before them. 

      Rommel said to the silent crowd, “Thank you all for accepting my invitations and attending.  I hope I find you all well.  I have unfortunate news that there is a spy amongst us who is posing a threat to our military goals.  If you have any information that can help us discover this traitor, please report it to my colleague, Heinrich Himmler.”

      Rommel pointed to the doors where a man in an SS outfit and a green baseball cap stood.  At the site of Himmler, many of the veteran players let out a low sound of surprise, as if this was something very unusual.

      Himmler said nothing, but Rommel finished by saying, “Thank you all again for coming.  If one of you should happen to be the spy we are looking for, understand that while you are in neutral Switzerland, this is the German Embassy and as such, it is under German control.  Nobody will be allowed to leave until we find the spy.  I strongly urge you all to present yourselves to Himmler and myself to judge your innocence.”

      With Rommel’s ending statement, many players started to form lines to the two notorious Germans.  Oliver worried it was Emma’s character they were looking for as he got in line to meet Himmler.  Surely, Himmler would acquit his character, Filippo.  Oliver also hoped he could get information that would prove Orsina was not the culprit either.

      As Oliver watched the people before him in line greet Himmler, he made sure to memorize the posture and salute they had, if Himmler seemed pleased.  It was Oliver’s hope that he could mimic the best speakers.  Some of the other Italians saluted using the standard military salute, not the Nazi salute.  Himmler seemed approving of these people.  Oliver decided it made the most sense for him to use this salute when his time came.

      Oliver perfectly matched the salute he had seen a dozen times.  “Sir, I am Filippo Lombardi from the Italian Secret Service.”

       “Ah yes, the southern secret service,” Himmler said in a scornful voice.  “Well, what say you?”

      Oliver lost some of his composure, but managed to ask, “Have you an idea of the sex of the spy?”

      Himmler let out a deep sigh. Oliver knew this was going badly.  What was Himmler expecting? 

      Himmler continued, “There may be some female agents in your southern secret service with positions of importance, probably positions over you in fact, but only a man could be able to execute a plot like this.  Why do you ask?  Have you a lead that you hoped to eliminate with the question?  Surely you do!  Don’t waste my time interrogating me.  You need to be honest and open . . . unless of course you want to leave this party in a box.”

      With all Himmler had said Oliver was overwhelmed.  First there was his natural anger toward Himmler’s sexist position.  As Oliver thought about it, it was perfectly in character for Himmler to be sexist.  The main problem though was that the person playing Himmler’s character was adept enough to know Oliver was asking leading questions.  Himmler was not a character to be led.  Perhaps the two things Himmler used against Oliver could be used together as a defense.

      Finally, Oliver said, “You are, of course, correct Sir.  There were some women who I thought might be involved, but now that you mention it, the spy could only be a man.  Thank you for correcting me.”

      Himmler said dismissively, “Good!  Now stop wasting my time!”

      Oliver went on to look for Noël Belcher.  Oliver found Noël in the front of a line to talk to Rommel.

      Noël spoke briefly with Rommel then got out of line and headed to Himmler, presumably to get in line to see Himmler.  Oliver stopped him on his way to Himmler.  “Mr. Belcher, may I have a word with you in private?”

      Noël turned and sized up Oliver then said, “Certainly, how may I help you?”

      Oliver crossed his fingers in the out of character sign, “Does this work for locationally challenged?  This is my first time, sorry.”

      Noël smiled then said, “We’re all newbies at one time or another.  We should be fine.  If anybody comes near, assault them with an L.”

      Oliver quickly checked Filippo’s character sheet then continued, “What is your favorite type of cigar?”

      “I don’t much fancy cigars; I’m more of a peace pipe man.”

      “How goes your mission?”

      “What mission?”

      Oliver stammered as if he was talking to the wrong person, “Your mission . . . for Italy?”

      “Oh, well, it’s not exactly a specific mission at the moment.  I just watch and wait, watch and wait.  Pretty boring thus far, the Vichy I work with are all pathetic collaborators.”

      “Isn’t that a good thing?”

      “For our cause,” Noël replied, “Yes.  Nevertheless, I despise them.  They are spineless cowards.  The more I know them the more I come to loath them.  They make me sick.”

      “How would you act in their place?”

      “Act, what a perfect choice of words, all they do is act out the parts the Germans have given them, they’re barely more than puppets.  Obviously, I can’t say what I would do in their situation, but really, I wouldn’t be in the position the Vichy are.  If I were truly French, I would probably be a part of their résistance.  I would possibly leave France to convince outsiders to aid the country.  In any case, I do act like them, but it’s my job.  My job is for my real country’s glory.  The Vichy will die knowing no glory.”

      Oliver was really taken aback by how well Noël was being performed.  He had seen good role-playing before, but never with such passion.  The facial expressions perfectly portrayed Noël’s disgust of the Vichy. 

      Oliver asked, “Have you any intelligence related to Rommel’s speech?”

      Noël shook his head no.  “I doubt any of the Vichy are even suspects.  It’s a waste of time to invite them if you ask my opinion.”

      “Then why did they invite us?”

      “Probably just to keep the real spy from getting suspicious.  This is the type of party one would rightly, sadly, but rightly expect the Vichy to attend.”

      Now Oliver was even more concerned. If Noël’s character was being played by a veteran player, he would probably be correct about the spy not being a Vichy.  That only left Germans and Italians, making Orsina 33% more likely to be the spy.

      Before Oliver went on to do more ‘mingling’ he asked, “Is it a big deal for Himmler to be here?”

      “You really must be a noob,” Noël whispered.  Then in a normal voice he said, “Yes, this is the first time in a very long time that such a high ranking member of the Nazi party has attended one of these events.”

      “Isn’t Rommel at least as high ranking?”

      “Almost, but Rommel isn’t really a Nazi, not historically at least.  He was more a soldier doing his duty.  Rommel has been in the military since long before Hitler came to power.”  Again in a low voice, “Generals are often regular NPC characters.”

      “I see,” replied Oliver. “Thank you.”

****

      Emma had seen Oliver with Himmler and decided it would be best if she talked to Himmler despite her previous fear.  Based on her character sheet Himmler should be trustworthy and could personally vouch for her character, Orsina.

      When Emma finally got through the line, she gave a salute similar to Oliver’s, which Himmler respectfully returned.  Emma then said, “Sir, I am Orsina Gallo.”

      Himmler asked, “Well, Miss Gallo, how do you do?”

      Emma was sure nobody could hear, so she questioned him, “Sir, you do remember me, do you not?”

      Himmler said, “I know many Italian officers in the secret service, but I have not met you until today. Had you expected me to answer otherwise?”

      “No, Sir, I just . . . I forget myself sometimes, please excuse me.”  Emma thought that Himmler was being cautious and that there might still be somebody in hearing range. Alternatively, perhaps he was concerned about lip readers.  Nevertheless, the question was discreet enough to go unnoticed.

      “Before you go, have you anything to tell me in regards to the spy we are looking for?”

      “No, I’m sorry to say I don’t, Sir.”

      “Very well then,” said Himmler dismissively.

      What was Himmler doing?  Did the person playing Himmler not remember Orsina’s name?  Emma decided she would have to wait until the line finished so she could talk to Himmler in true privacy. 

      When Himmler was finally done with his line, which took far longer than Rommel's line, he did his version of mingling.  Emma approached him and said, “May I speak with you in private, Sir?”

      Himmler nodded, “Yes, you may.”  He led her to a corner and said, “This should do.  If somebody tries to interrupt, we'll just give them an L.  What can I do for you, Miss?”

      “Sir, do you not remember me?  I’m Orsina Gallo.”

      “No, Miss, I do not remember you and I have an excellent memory when it comes to women.”

      “I met you in 1934.”

      “You must have me confused with somebody else.  Maybe after our spy is found we could get better acquainted.”

      She thought back to her character sheet and said, “What is the weather like in Berlin?”

      He replied, “The weather is perfectly sunny.  A great time for lovers, maybe you should visit me there.  I would love to have you.”

      She thought, ‘I’m sure you would’ but instead asked, “Who discovered there was a spy?”

      Himmler paused then said, “Hitler found out that certain information was getting leaked.  This information could only have come from one of the people present at this event.”

      “How did you get involved?”

      “Rommel was asked by Hitler to investigate.  Rommel felt I would be a better candidate and asked me to help.”  Himmler paused then gave a frown, “As much as I enjoy the company of a beautiful lady, I must continue my search.”

      “Thank you, Sir”

      “You’re welcome, and please remember my invitation,” he said meaning his invitation for them to be better acquainted which of course Emma had no interest in and doubted Orsina would either.

      Emma was a bit confused now, but thought maybe she was on to something.  She went and found one of the storytellers.  When she found one she said, “May I ask you about my character?”

      The storyteller said, “Of course.”

      “It says in my character profile that I met Himmler in 1934.  Himmler doesn’t remember me.  I told him in private my character name and that we had met in 1934, but he said I was mistaken.”  She thought, ‘And then he started trying to pick me up!’

      The storyteller said, “Your character sheet is correct.  You have met him.”

      “Did Himmler forget meeting me?”

      The storyteller replied perfectly monotone, “Himmler did not forget you.  Is there anything else I can help you with?”

      She shook her head no then thanked the storyteller.  While she thought about this, a member of the Vichy started talking to her.  She tucked her thought away, hoping to use it as a wild card later.

****

      Oliver was getting more and more concerned that Orsina was the spy.  He found no clues that pointed to anybody else.  He noticed she was talking to somebody and decided after she was done he would try to debrief her.  When she finished he went over and said, “Miss Gallo, may I speak with you in private?”

      Emma said, “Of course.”

      They walked to a quiet area and then he said to her, “I am an SS contact and you should ask me about the weather!”

      She said in a sarcastic voice, “Really Mr. SS, about the weather?  Should I say something like, what is the weather like in Berlin?”

      Oliver replied, “It’s been raining for years but the rain will soon freeze to leave nothing but snow.”

      Emma paused for a second then said, “You may be from the SS, which makes you awfully suspicious, but perhaps we should be working on more important things than the weather.”

      “But I need to debrief you!”

      “There’s nothing to debrief me about.  Even if there was, you don’t have the proper clearance.”

      “But what about the weather?”

      “What about the weather?”

      Oliver was not really sure what happened.  She did not seem to be responding, so maybe she really was an Italian Secret Service agent and his character sheet had bogus information.  He finally said, “Oh, never mind.  I was just playing a game from the secret service training program.  Maybe they only played it when I was there.”

      “Maybe . . . so have you had any luck finding this spy?”

      Oliver shook his head no.

      “Me neither,” she said.

      Just as she finished speaking, Rommel called for silence.  He then said, “We don’t seem to be making much progress, so we are now going to ask you to break off into countries.  Within your country groups, I want you to decide who you know is definitely not the spy.  When that is done have a representative come forward to show your findings.”

      When Rommel was done one of the French said, “Vichy, to me please.”

      A moment later one of the other players said, “Germans to me please.”

      The French went to one corner of the room and the Germans to another.  There really were very few Italians and nobody was organizing them, so Emma finally said, “Italians to me please.”

      Oliver raised his eyebrows as if to ask, ‘To you?’

      Emma shrugged, “Somebody’s got to do it!”

      The few Italians joined Emma and Oliver.  They quickly found that while some of the other Italians had played before, not one of them was a veteran.  Since none of them seemed motivated, she ran the meeting.

      She started by asking, “I think the best way to deal with this is mesmerize.  I can mesmerize people, and I promise to ask only if the person is a spy.  First, however, somebody should mesmerize me to prove I am not the spy.”

      One of the Italians said, “Fine, I can mesmerize you.”

      “OK,” she said, “do it!”

      The Italian said, “I am trying to mesmerize you, do you relent?”  Specifically he meant, should they compare their mesmerize levels and possibly do rock/paper/scissors to determine if he does mesmerize her.”

      She replied, “Yes.”

      “You are now mesmerized.  Tell us if you are the spy they are looking for.”

      She said, “I am not the spy.”

      He said, “You are no longer mesmerized. You can mesmerize me next.”

      Just as he had said it Emma said, “I’m trying to mesmerize you, do you relent?”

      “Yes.”

      “You are now mesmerized.  Are you the spy the Germans are looking for?”

      “No.”

      Emma said, “Fine, you are no longer mesmerized.”

      Emma continued to use the mesmerize skill on the Italians.  None challenged her and all said no, including Oliver. The final person was an Italian woman wearing a short black skirt and a black tank top with a long sleeve see-through shirt underneath the tank top.  The woman’s hair was dyed black; the dye was so obvious it almost looked like spray paint.  She also wore a shocking amount of foundation, making her face look white.  Her nail polish was black, and she wore army-like boots very similar to Carmen’s boots.  She said, “I do not relent.  My skill in the mesmerize skill is level 5.”

      Emma said, “Mine as well, Rock/Paper/Scissors on three, one . . . two . . . three . . . shoot,” Emma threw-out her hand like a fist for rock; the woman with the tank top also threw out her hand with a fist for rock.

      Oliver said the obvious, “A tie!”

      The man who had used the mesmerize skill on Emma said to the tank-top woman, “I am trying to mesmerize you, do you challenge my attempt?”

      Their levels also matched, so the woman said, “Yes, on three, one . . . two . . . three . . . shoot,” the tank-top woman threw out her hand flat for paper and he threw out his hand with scissors making him the victor.

      He said, “I mesmerize you. Are you the spy Himmler and Rommel are looking for?”

      She said, “No.”

      He clarified, “Are you aiding the allied powers in any way?”

      She said, “No.”

      “Fine, you are no longer hypnotized.”

      “Why the extra question?”

      He gave an are-you-nuts look and said, “If you put that much effort to evade the question I had to make sure you didn’t use a semantic loophole to evade the question.  I presume you have answered us honestly.”

      The tank-top woman gave an appalled look as if he had spoken the worst kind of slander imaginable.  “I’m not a cheater!”

      Oliver tried to diffuse the situation, “It looks like we’ve come up empty.  Any ideas what we should tell Rommel and Himmler?”

      “Whatever it is, make her do it,” the tank-top woman said pointing to Emma.

      Emma nodded in agreement.

****

      The Italians were the first group done, probably because they were quick to make and execute a plan.  It also helped that they were the smallest group.  They continued to talk, or argue when it came to tank-top woman, as they waited.  It turned out tank-top girl thrived on conflict and had only made the challenge to liven up the game.

      The Vichy were the next to finish.  Several minutes later, the Germans finished.  Rommel went to the table at the back of the room and said, “Since the Germans were last to finish please send your representative first!”

      One of the German player’s went forward and said, “I will answer for the Germans present, excluding you and Himmler, of course.”

      Rommel said, “Of course.”

      “Each of the Germans has one or more of the other Germans vouching for each other.  In this way we have proven all of us innocent.”

      Rommel said, “Fine.  French Vichy, you’re next.”

      One of the French stepped forward and said, “Sir, in the same way the Germans have proven themselves innocent we have proven ourselves innocent.”

      Rommel nodded, “Fine, Italians send your representative.”

      Emma stepped forward, “Sir, each of our members has been mesmerized individually and-”

      Rommel cut her off, “Excellent.”  He then turned on the German volunteer and said, “Why didn’t you try that!  You’re an embarrassment to Germany.”

      The German representative blushed and looked down at his shoes like a schoolgirl who had just been scolded for fibbing.  Rommel turned back to Emma, “Sorry, please continue!”

      “Sir, while mesmerized each of us were asked if we were the spy.  We all said no.”

      Rommel growled, “Really.  Did you do it correctly?”

      “Yes Sir.”

      “So what you’re saying is that it wasn’t an Italian.  If it wasn’t an Italian, who could it be? Certainly no Vichy would have been given access to such important documents! Are you suggesting a German did it?”

      “No, Sir, I’m saying it wasn’t one of the Italians present.”

      “All the possible Italians are here!”

      “Are all the possible Germans and French here too?”

      “You impertinent girl!  If you weren’t a girl I’d strike you where you stand.”

      Emma started to get the feeling this was not going well.  In fact, it could not be going much worse. All she could do was play her wild card that she had been holding since her talk with the storyteller.

            Emma turned to face Himmler and said, “I’m trying to mesmerize you, do you relent?”

      Himmler said, “Yes, my mesmerize skill is level . . . 4.”

      Emma was worried it would be higher.  Nevertheless, if her hunch was correct, there was a good reason why it was not higher.

      Emma said, “My mesmerize level is 5.  You are now mesmerized.”

      Before Emma could question Himmler, Rommel said, “What are you doing!  He is the highest ranking German here!”

      Emma said curtly to Rommel, “My point exactly.”

      As Rommel seemed to mull over her words, she said to Himmler, “Is Himmler a traitor?”

      Himmler said, “No.”

      Rommel said, “How could you even ask that!  If anybody is a traitor here, it’s you!”

      Emma then said to Himmler, “Are you Himmler?”

      After a dramatic pause, Himmler said, “No.”

      Emma said, “You are no longer mesmerized.  You may now arrest yourself!”

      Rommel insisted, “What is going on here?”

      Emma explained, “I’ve met Himmler before.  This person doesn’t recognize me but Himmler would.  That was my first clue.  There was another major clue.  Hitler went to you personally and not Himmler.  You, of course, involved Himmler because this is the kind of thing he should deal with as the leader of the SS.  It’s not a military issue, so it made no sense for you to be involved.  Hitler must have asked you for a reason.  Maybe he suspects, even if only subconsciously, that Himmler was part of the problem.”

      Rommel turned on Himmler’s imposter, “If you’re not Himmler, who are you and where is the real Himmler?”

      Himmler’s imposter simply said, “If you let me off this property onto Swiss property I will tell you where the real Himmler is.”

      Rommel said, “No.”  He then turned to the Germans he had walked in with and said, “Take him away.  We have ways, which the real Himmler taught us, of making people talk.”

      At this point, the black-hat storytellers came out.  The woman who had spoken in the very beginning now said, “Congratulations. Today’s event has completed with the mystery solved.  There were a few other clues given to other new players that also could have revealed the truth.  The storytellers have agreed that the best role-playing award certificate should go to the woman playing Orsina Gallo.”  The woman handed a certificate to Emma.

      As Emma went back to Oliver, Rommel said, “Hey, you still want to get acquainted?”

      She said, “No, thanks, I have a husband I’m already fully acquainted with.”

      Rommel said, “Bah, he won’t mind.”

      She said, “I also have to pickup my three kids.”

      “Ah . . . kids . . . well you should do that then.  It was nice to meet you.”

      “I’m sure.”

      When Emma reached Oliver, Oliver asked, “What was that all about?”

      She smiled and said, “Look, Honey, I won!”

      Oliver nodded.

      “Let’s get out of here,” she said.

      “Sounds good to me”

      After they left they headed to the children’s area.  As they walked, Emma explained how her character was an SS double agent recruited by Himmler.  Oliver told her that his character sheet said that and asked, “Why didn’t you let me debrief you?”

      Emma said, “You said the wrong thing.  You were supposed to say, ‘It’s been raining for years but the rain will soon freeze to leave nothing but ice.’  What you said was different, so I played dumb.”

      “Well, good job.”

      She punched him in the arm, “Be nice!”

      “I was, I meant good job winning.”

      “Oh,” she said then punched him again.

      “What was that for?”

      “I don’t know.  I felt like it!”

      Oliver made a silly looking martial arts-like move then said, “Well, I should warn you I know Mumbo Jumbo!”

      When they arrived at the Children’s Area most of the colonists were already there.  Everybody played with their kids as they waited for the final stragglers.  When everybody was ready, they all left together.  As they drove off, the kids old enough to know the full meaning of what they were doing and some of the parents took a last look at what they were leaving behind forever.  You could see sadness in some of their eyes.  A few of the kids cried because they were sad to leave the arcade, others because they knew they would never return.

      The parents soothed the children as much as they could, but in many ways they had the same feelings. Their feelings were not as much connected with the arcade, but the arcade was a symbol of everything they were leaving behind, everything they would have to give up. 

      When they got back to the colony, they were all sullen.  They marched somberly past where the tents had been.  All but one was gone.  You could tell where each tent had been because in its place was dead grass and dirt. 

Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford

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