They call themselves the Spool; although it is unknown if this name is singular or plural, xenobiologists use the name for both. When a Spool was asked for clarification about its name, the befog calmly said, “We are the Spool, from which unwind the mind of puppets.” The contempt dripping from its voice perfectly matched the hubris in this explanation (if true); to the Spool, all other minds are merely playthings, toys to be used and abused at will. And, like a spoiled child with a toy, if one should break … well, there are many more out there, waiting to be played with.
Agility 2D: dodge 5D+2, running 4D+1
Knowledge 5D: intimidation 7D+1, scholar: psychology 5D, willpower 10D
Perception 5D: command 6D+2, persuasion 9D, search 6D, sneak 7D
Technical 2D: medicine: psychology 5D
Metaphysics 1D: channel 3D, sense 10D, transform 4D
Strength Damage: 1D
Fate Points: 2
Character Points: 10
Body Points: 13
Wound levels: 3
Disadvantages: Quirk (R3), megalomaniacal, feels the need to surround itself with unwavering followers
Advantages: Size: Small (R1), scale value 1
Special Abilities: Skill Bonus (R10), +3D to sense rolls, with Ability Loss (R1) requires sentient mind as a target and Ability Loss (R2) certain stimulus or conditions causes loss of this bonus and allows the victim a willpower check to break free for several minutes
In addition to mental shield, personal physical shield, detect life, influence, send thoughts, and ignore pain, most Spool have displayed the following manipulations. Individual Spool may exhibit other metaphysical manifestations of power.
Skill Used: Sense
Effect: persuasion 7D (14)
Target Size: Group (+5)
Range: Self (for effect) (0); Long (to target) (+7)
Duration: 2 rounds (+0)
With this manipulation, the Spool can impart a general desire to comply with its wishes to others, using a persuasion skill of 7D to do so. At its basic level, this ability requires the same compulsion to be imparted to all members of the group, such as, “You want to protect the beautiful large-brained bald being over there:’ However, a successful supplemental use of the command skill can allow the Spool to influence different members of the group in different ways, such as telling one half of a group, “You think it’s hot in here and want to remove your clothing” and telling the other half “Naked people make you homicidally furious.” This subtle but powerful ability is limited only by the creativity and cruelty of the Spool. Throughout the use of this manipulation, the Spool’s eyes glow; the hue depends on the broad emotion being sent (red for anger, blue for sadness, yellow for cowardice, and so on).
Skill Used: Sense
Effect: command 10D (20)
Target Size: Group (+5)
Range: Self (for effect) (0); Long (to target) (+7)
Duration: 2 rounds (+0)
For two rounds, the Spool can force its victims to do its bidding, using a command skill of 10D both to impart its directives and to coordinate their effectiveness. The Spool’s eyes glow constantly when using this ability, with the intensity determined by the number commanded and the force of will necessary to influence them.
Skill Used: Sense
Effect: persuasion 6D (12), imperceptible (+24)
Target Size: Person (+2)
Range: Self (for effect) (0); Point Blank (to target) (+0)
Duration: 2 rounds (+0)
This subtle ability allows the Spool to erase or modify the memories of its victims, using a persuasion of 6D to do so. The target gets to make a willpower skill roll to resist this; if tl1e Spool is successful, its result points determine the effect.
|0-4||Spool can erase one memory gained within the past minute|
|05/08/21||Spool can erase or make subtle alterations of one memory gained within the past day|
|07/11/21||Spool can erase, implant, or make radical alterations to any one memory of the victim|
|12/15/21||Spool can erase, rewrite, or fabricate memory of an entire encounter|
|16||Spool can completely erase, rewrite, or fabricate the victim’s entire memory|
This effect is permanent, although they can be undone if a psychologist helps the victim by making a medicine: psychology roll that exceeds the Spool’s original roll.
A Spool looks mostly humanoid, with hairless bodies and pupilless eyes. Its head is disproportionately bigger when compared with other lifeforms, probably to better house its large brain. Skin coloration varies, although it always seems to have an unhealthy pale hue to it. They move with wide sweeping arcs and exaggerated gestures, as if they themselves were some kind of puppet. They generally wear an insufferable smirk. They seem to be genderless, although they are not.
The history of the Spool is unknown, primarily because they don’t talk with anyone. However, xenobiologists have a solid theory, backed up by evidence. These scientists believe that the Spool were originally a scrawny race known as the S’ali, a species that was utterly dominated and subjugated by another race called the Hirvee. This race was physically and technologically superior to the S’ali, and for millennia, they felt the weight of the Hirvee’s boot, driven to early graves through hard labor and menial tasks.
However, the S’ali had an ace in the hole, which took ages to bring to fruition. The S’ali had the ability to rap a metaphysical energy within the universe, one chat the Hirvee could not even detect, let alone defend against. 1his power was incredibly weak and did itself not prove any asset to the S’ali. However, they engaged in an experiment, one that they hoped would save their world. fu secret, trapped within in their gulags, they began a selective breeding process. The members of cl1e S’ali most talented in harnessing this energy would mate with others thus skilled, and so would their resultant children do the same. According to the prophecy of a S’ali seer, the child born of the one-hundredth such selection would be the one to free them. This prophesied offspring became known to them as the Hundredth Generational.
Over the course of the next millennium, the S’ali continued this process in silence and secrecy. They knew that discovery would mean death for all involved, at the very least. Finally, the one-hundredth generation of such children were born; the first one, a little girl, was named Sp’ael – S’ali for “Hope.” On her thirteenth birthday, she put her plan into motion – a plan she kept hidden from even her parents. Tapping these new energies she found swelling within her, she compelled two of the guards within their prison camp to fight each other. They did so; and when other guards came to stop them, she compelled them also to fight each other. When they did so, she escaped the mayhem and went to the leaders. She forced them to launch strikes against their own kind, and soon the planet was aflame with the deaths of countless Hirvee.
Eventually a Hirvee with enough willpower to fight the effects of this girl’s mind was able to alert his superiors in orbital space stations about the situation. These leaders, realizing the gravity of what rhey faced, used neutron bombs and worse to scourge the planet clean – the only remaining members of the Hirvee were those aboard the colony stations, and it seemed that the S’ali had been wiped dean as well. However, one ship escaped; aboard it were a little girl and her younger brothers and sisters. Sp’ael made those aboard the station to allow her to land.
The historical record for the Hirvee ends at that point.
There are no further mentions of the S’ali either, although it is supposed that these beings insinuated themselves among the stars, using the technology acquired from that ship and Hirvee. The rise of the S’ali and the death of the Hirvee was over a millennium ago.
With Friends like These
The blaster felt warm in my clammy hands. Why was I so apprehensive? My new friend put it in perspective – I’ve always wanted to kill the Admiral. Now is the time.
The Ways of the Spool
The first mention of the “Spool” as a species appears several centuries ago. In this incident, one person identifying itself as “Spool” held sway over an entire star cruiser, turning the vessel into a sadistic nightmare. The ship was eventually blown apart by the race’s imperial navy. Since that event, Spool sightings have cropped up from time to time – usually about once every 20 years or so, although in the past decade, they have become much more common (although still a very rare occurrence).
Xenobiologists and metaphysicists agree that the Spool are some kind of psychic puppet-masters. They have the ability to completely take over someone and subjugate that will to their own. This is the most blatant use of their ability.
The less obvious utilization, and the one that the Spool currently use more often, is to subtly “push” their subjects to acting a certain way. This requires more effort on the part of the Spool, but it makes the resultant controlled being much more difficult to detect. Worse, such victims are completely unaware of such compulsions, and they believe the ideas were their own (although they can come to realize the truth if the puppet-masters’ plots are revealed). Finally, the Spool can also modify and erase the memories of their victims. They usually only do this in conjunction with other puppeteering actions, but they might do so to pursue other long-term goals.
The Spool have other, lesser abilities, mostly because of the metaphysical energy source they tap. It is also possible for a Spool to improve these minor abilities; the prospect of a Spool with significantly different powers than typical gives pause to many interstellar law enforcement officials.
When acting against a new target, a Spool’s first priority is to find an agent it can turn to its wilt quickly, who will help take the Spool to a place of safety; a Spool without any other agents is relatively weak and can easily succumb to normal damage. From this safe domain, the Spool will try to learn as much as it can about its chosen target environment, all the while maintaining contact with that initial thrall. The Spool might even ask the person to bring it information – blueprints, handheld computers, and other material that might prove useful. During this time, the thrall is controlled using more subtle methods, lest the duplicity be discovered. “Of course it makes perfect sense to get the station plans for you new friend; you want to do nice things for your friends, right?”
Once the Spool has a safe haven and at least one minion, it tries to “recruit” other members of its area, controlling them in the same subtle ways as the initial victim. After the Spool has enough victims under its control (usually about 10% or so of the total population of the area), it begins putting its plans in motion.
What these plans are depends on the individual Spool. The biggest goal most Spool have is to reproduce. The Spool do this by infusing a victim with a draft of their blood, either orally or injected. These victims – whom the Spool consider fortunate – aren’t chosen haphazardly. Rather, only those with the greatest command of metaphysical powers are so “honored”; the Spool can use their abilities to sense such individuals. In situations where a suitable victim is not available, someone with high intelligence is chosen instead. This blood congeals in a cavity of the host body – usually in the abdomen -and eventually forms into a full-fledged (albeit smaller) member of the Spool. The entire process takes about a month, and the resultant eruption is almost always fatal to the host. The parent Spool can determine who would make the most suitable host in an area using its own sensory powers, and it often erases or alters the memories of the hose to make it unwitting in its role until its too late. A Spool can make approximately one offspring every year or two.
This emphasis on reproduction seems from the Spool’s idea of their collective destiny. The Spool are committed to the coming of the Two Hundredth Generational – the one-hundredth generation of offspring alter their liberation. Although the exact rime since the last Generational is unknown, scholars are deeply concerned; their calculations assume 20 years between generations and over a 1,000 years since the first Generational, meaning that the cosmos could be within a decade of an evolutionary threat that is as great a leap as the rise of the Spool was long ago.
Curiously, the power of the Spool reproduction doesn’t seem to be intrinsic to themselves; rather, it seems somehow tied to their blood. There have been a ti east three cases of unsuspecting lab workers having come into contact with Spool hemoglobin and becoming infected. In one of the cases, the blood even seemed able to remove the memory of the infection from the victim, resulting in a “sleeper” agent with little knowledge of the monster that lurked within her.
Beyond their quest for the Two Hundredth Generational, Spool appear to have few other quests or desires. They aren’t especially organized, although small bands of them might unite if a city or colony looks too difficult to control individually. Their needs and desires are otherwise akin to other humanoids, regarding food, shelter, entertainment, and so on. Since they are accustomed to getting what they want, most of their pursuits are with an eye toward hedonism; they especially enjoy taxing their own abilities in new and interesting ways, such as having a group of victims fight each other to the death, or compelling a victim from a great distance to do something outrageous in front of a dumbfounded crowd.
They don’t seem intent on galactic conquest so much as isolated pockets. Of course, they might be biding their time for such pursuits, waiting for the Two Hundredth Generational. And there is ac least one record of a more altruistic Spool, who organized the people of a slave camp to be able to overthrow their oppressors. Still, such high-minded members of the species would be rare, to say the least, and the parts of the galaxy who know of the existence of the Spool generally have a “shoot first, ask questions later, and pray they don’t come back” attitude toward them.
The Enemy Within
The biggest problem with fighting the Spool is that there is no enemy to fight; indeed, it is quite possible that a victim doesn’t even know she has been taken over by the Spool. However, there is one “ace” that sentient minds have in combating this threat: Each individual Spool has some kind of weakness that allows a person (or people) to break free from their hold for at least a few minutes ac a time.
The difficulty in using this information is that the Spool’s limitation varies from individual to individual; thus what works in fending off a Spool attack in one situation may not necessarily work in another. Some examples of their limitations include:
> A type or class of person who is not vulnerable to attacks at all (such as women, members of one alien species, or the elderly)
> An emotional state that allows someone to break free or remain unaffected. (such as extreme emotions, devotion to a true love, or unexpected pain)
> A physical stimulus that disrupts the Spool’s control (such as exposure to bright sunlight, being submerged in water, or an oxygen-rich environment)
> Medical conditions, either lacking something others have or vice versa, that makes the victim immune or provides them with a chance to break free (such as diabetes, an abundance of histamines in the blood, pregnancy, or undergoing treatment for chemotherapy)
Even with these limitations, however, a single Spool is still a formidable opponent, especially since it can be so difficult to determine what the weakness is. Scholars hesitate to guess at the number of victims the Spool have across the galaxy, partly because it’s entirely possible that some worlds have been so subjugated that the rest of the interstellar community doesn’t even know they exist. Regardless, they are considered to be one of the greatest threats ever known, and all hints at Spool infestations are created very seriously among civilizations that know of them.
The Spool have other weaknesses that can be turned against them. They are generally arrogant, and often believe their work to be unstoppable (unless they know their weakness has been exploited). In particular, once a Spool has taken over a mind, it almost never scans to make sure that its handiwork hasn’t been overcome or thwarted. Furthermore, their physical forms are almost always weak; if control can be broken, it’s usually relatively straightforward to reduce chem to an unconscious state, where they are no longer able to rely on their abilities. However, with the seemingly inevitable coming of the Two Hundredth Generational, all these limitations may evaporate into nothing … along with the galaxy’s chances for knowing their minds are truly free.