Radiation hung over misty Odluk Atoll (somewhere in the Pacific) like the odor of red licorice after a roomful of children vacated. It was from past atom-bomb tests and the team could feel it as soon as they came ashore.
Navy Captain Hemp Mavwell was restless. He liked bombs but didn’t care for science stuff. “How much longer?”
Dr. Karsly Morbin turned from her radiation detector with a flip of her hair. “Just a few more figures, Captain.”
“The figure I’m looking at is fine as it is.” Hemp lit a smoke.
Karsly matched his smoke with a smirk, rolling her eyes and making a rude gesture at Hemp’s back after turning to her moody assistant Alice Greem. Still new to the science game, Alice’s “trial by fire” was a run-in with the crab people, and it still upset her to think of it.
A sailor’s yell brought them to the far side of the atoll and a sight that would freeze the most hardened jeweler. It was the largest pearl anyone had seen. Larger than a rich lady’s.
“Why…it’s as big as a small cottage,” Hemp gasped.
“We need to take it back with us,” said Karsly, captivated by shiny things.
“That the scientist talking? Or the woman?” uttered Alice.
“A giant pearl? On a navy ship?” griped the outraged Hemp.
“Relax. Even a woman scientist would find it difficult to wear a pearl the size of a small cottage. But if we can find out what made it this way, who knows what doors we may unlock?” said the scientist, scientifically.
Back in the not-named-ironically Coastal City, Karsly had the pearl inlaid in a lovely massive industrial setting and she and Alice went to work studying it, along with difficult but brilliant Dr. Bundolph Laig. They quickly found the pearl had extraordinary properties.
“The radiation, constant pulsing, that funny hum — this pearl is jam-packed with science,” gasped Karsly.
“It is, in effect, my dear, a miniature atomic plant of inconceivable force,” confirmed Laig.
Hemp grasped that like a giraffe in a necktie store. “A source like this could make a whole lot of bombs. I’ll classify it and phone Washington.”
Later, Laig made his way to a cafe, into a back room, through a secret door to a secret chamber with a powerful modern television screen. It squealed as he made contact and soon he was looking at Egarp Krosh, severely-bearded representative of a hostile foreign power. “Well, brother-comrade? Is it true about the pearl?”
“More than true,” said Bundolph. “It is exactly true.”
“At last. The answer to big bomb prayers. We must have it at all costs, brother-comrade. You know what you must do.”
“I know you know I know what I must do,” smiled Laig.
“I know you know I know you know what you must do.” For security purposes, this went on…
But a gargantuan shadow loomed. And a resounding cry of grief special to mollusks. The captain of a tanker in the Pacific screamed as something the size of a stadium crashed down on him.
Reports of missing ships stacked like pancakes at a breakfast convention. Though the incidents followed a path directly to Coastal City, Karsly, Laig, and Alice were too caught up in science to notice. In fact, they’d succeeded in jury-rigging the pearl to power several nuclear plants.
But after hours, Laig and his minions snuck in with paint cans and managed to disguise the pearl as a giant display baseball, the kind enjoyed in ballparks across the country. Then they disappeared with it into the night.
Karsly knew who had stolen it right away: She’d never trusted Laig. Hemp notified law enforcement to be on the lookout for something giant, shiny, round, and radioactive.
The unsuspecting Coastal City waterfront became a nightmare when something as vast as a convention center rose from the water, looming darkly. A clam so colossal the press immediately dubbed it “King Clam.”
It slammed down on pier after pier, leaving rubble, confusion, and distaste for seafood in its wake. Its legless mobility was a raising and slamming down, as deadly as it was annoying.
Hemp hadn’t wanted Karsly to go undercover, but when they heard of the secret “radioactive pearl” auction she knew it was the only chance. Oddly, the sullen Alice was all for it. Fact was, Laig had betrayed his ungodly masters and was selling the pearl to the highest bidder.
Pretending to be “renegade scientist Bleeko Promine,” Karsly arrived at the warehouse location where both underworld and hostile powers were intent on buying the pearl. For display, the paint had been washed off and it looked as shiny and radioactive as ever.
As bidding began in earnest, Alice burst in, blowing Karsly’s cover.
“Karsly Morbin stole Newcott Waikes from me on their Seal Slug voyage! I vowed to get revenge and now I have!” she laughed.
“It was just a brief fling,” claimed Karsly.
Thunderous booming stopped everything. From the windows, all saw King Clam slamming its path of mass destruction right towards them. Hemp was leading the fight, firing up at the monster harmlessly with a pistol for some reason, which he emptied, then threw at the thing.
Karsly shouted, “Don’t you see?! You fools, oh you fools! All it wants is its pearl back!”
“Never!” shouted Laig like a madman, trying to roll the giant pearl to a hiding place.
Fearing for her own life, Alice got on the roof. “Here! Here is your pearl, King Clam! Oh, what have I done?!” she sobbed beneath the mighty shadow of King Clam as it slammed down on her and the roof. The hole in the building revealed the pearl to the monster as Laig bolted. Happy as a clam, King Clam managed to open its maw and scoop the pearl inside.
Hemp and Karsly watched from a pier as King Clam returned to the sea with its radioactive prize. “Maybe someday, Hemp… we can make bombs without giant clams.”
We're closing in on our next Stretch Goal, like an angry seal circling a lost kayaker... Let's keep at it - spread the word, set out some bait, and pull them in. Or, figure out some kind of fishing metaphor of your own that works much better.
MIDWINTER GAMING CON
If you're at the Midwinter Gaming Convention in Milwaukee this weekend, come find the Onyx Path team and say hi! They'll be around booth CB7 and CB8, but I'm sure there will be signs of Onyx Path games all around the convention. And, if you can, check out the Onyx Path Q&A event late Thursday afternoon in the opulent Founder’s Room, where lots of secrets will be revealed and questions answered.