Mech Mayhem: Original Science-Fiction Storytelling

The following is a series of original characters, dialogue, and quest designs for an imaginary mech-based science fiction game.

***

I. Storytelling Through Dialogue

  1. Character Descriptions

  2. Commander Astra Kovacic

  • The intrepid commander of the Starship Toulouse, Astra Kovacic has spent her life pursuing a military career and exceeding expectations. The petite master strategist is committed to maintaining order, even at the expense of social pleasantries. Her parents vanished on an exploratory mission when she was a child, so Astra routinely requests missions to remote sectors of the galaxy in hopes of locating them. Despite her hardened exterior, Astra has a soft spot for cute cuddly creatures, including her pet guinea pig, Chomper, and her pompadoured crewmate, Dr. Mateo “Gonzo” Gonzales.

  1. Liaison Officer Yash Devi

  • The first Toulouse crew member to greet every visiting ambassador is the charming liaison officer, Yash Devi. Although his superiors wish he would take his role more seriously, the lanky Yash has a penchant for using humor to put both friend and foe at ease. Despite his laid-back demeanor, Yash is fiercely loyal to his loved ones, only joining the Toulouse after he secured onboard residence for his parents and his inquisitive 8-year-old daughter, Indira.

  1. Dr. Mateo “Gonzo” Gonzales

  • Break an arm? Unexplained space flu got you down? The Toulouse crew’s in good hands with Dr. Mateo “Gonzo” Gonzales onboard. Everyone in his weightlifting group calls him “Gonzo,” about which he’s pretty stoked. Obsessed with cleanliness and nutrition, Gonzo is known across the galaxy for creating a decontamination spray that also provides the user with their daily vitamins. When he’s off-duty, Gonzo works on his tan and courts Commander Astra Kovacic. He hasn’t eaten gluten in five years, and, much to everyone’s chagrin, he won’t shut up about it.

2. Dialogue-Only Scene 1:

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

I had you, you know. I was on track to pedal 5k four whole seconds before you!

DR. MATEO “GONZO” GONZALES

I dunno about that, bro, but, uh, congrats on knocking your cycle off its hinges and shredding the fuse box.

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

It’s just one teeny collision and one tiny single-sector power outage. I’m sure no one’s even noticed.

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

Devi! Gonzales! At attention, wherever the blazes you are.

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

Heeey, Commander Kovacic—how’s your guinea pig? Chipper, right?—so glad you decided to swing by the gym—

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

That’s Chomper, Mr. Devi. Now what exactly did you hope to achieve by taking your stationary bike on its first mobile excursion into this section’s power relay?

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

I prefer the term “liberating,” commander.

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

Perhaps it would be best if we “liberated” this ship of your disruptive presence?

DR. MATEO “GONZO” GONZALES

Liaison Officer Devi and I were pushing our bods to the limit for, like, honor, sir. Astra. Ma’am.

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

“Astra.” Nice.

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

“Commander” will do nicely, doctor. The electricity may not return for hours, but when it does, I—oh it’s back. Wasn’t expecting that.

DR. MATEO “GONZO” GONZALES

Don’t sweat it, commander. We’ll get this place totally squeaky clean in time for tonight’s BicepTricepPalooza.

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

How very fortunate for all affected. Back to your posts, all; the government isn’t paying us to lollygag.

3. Dialogue-Only Scene 2:

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

Fanfare’s over, lights are back up, now what’s so bloody important that you uprooted your cycle into the fuse box?

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

The sweetest prize of all.

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

Clarify. Less perilous patrols? A reprieve from your more strenuous training exercises?

DR. MATEO “GONZO” GONZALES

No way! You know I’ll always give 110%, commander.

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

Does she? Know that, I mean.

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

You may technically be at ease, Mr. Devi, but tread lightly. Our personal time is our own.

DR. MATEO “GONZO” GONZALES

Can we just cruise past this? It’s almost time for my mid-day spinach cleanse. Gotta stay GF. That’s GF for—

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

Yes, gluten-free, we’re aware. Now out with it. The approach to our upcoming ambassadorial summit won’t plot itself.

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

You heard the man, let’s move on. I mean, aren’t we all just stationary bikes knocking out the power of self-doubt in—

DR. MATEO “GONZO” GONZALES

We were racing for pudding, OK? Chocolate, artificial, gnarly pudding! Now you know my unhealthy shame!

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

What? It was the last one!

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC

We’re done here. Dr. Gonzales, I trust we shall discuss, um, other very important matters later this evening?

LIAISON OFFICER YASH DEVI

Can I tag along?

COMMANDER ASTRA KOVACIC & DR. MATEO “GONZO” GONZALES

Never.

II. Branching Storytelling

START

Exhausted from eluding a warlord known for leaving no survivors and having tragic bangs, you finally conclude your double shift. At last! You’re just a few minutes away from a solid eight hours and a much-needed break from all of this commanding business.

Before you can activate your cabin door, a little girl approaches you uncertainly. It’s Liaison Officer Devi’s 8-year-old daughter, Indira. She has clearly been crying.

  1. Furrow your brow and ask what’s wrong. [Go to Kind Friend]

  2. Salute her and instruct her to cheer up. [Go to Regimented Commander]

  3. Keep your eyes forward and ignore her. [Go to Rude & Awkward]

Kind Friend

Indira smiles hopefully through a sniffle and wipes her eyes. “D’you like little kitties? Oh, and puppies also.”

You nod warmly, dropping your no-nonsense demeanor at the mention of cute fuzzy pets.

“My Hufflesnort’s gone!” she exclaims. “I had him in the laundry room, a mean dog barked, I ate honey cakes, and then he was gone.”

  1. Check the laundry room. [Go to Laundry]

  2. Follow the smell of honey cakes. [Go to Kitchen]

  3. Search for the “mean dog.” [Go to Laundry]

Regimented Commander

Indira blinks at you blankly, confused by your strict adherence to protocol. “I’ll get some cheer if you help me.”

You raise an eyebrow at her and ask her to describe her problem. Briefly.

“I lost Hufflesnort! I ate honey cakes and it smelled like clean socks and there was a loud dog. That’s all.”

  1. Track the dog. [Go to Laundry]

  2. Search the laundry room. [Go to Laundry]

  3. Seek out the head baker. [Go to Kitchen]

Rude & Awkward

As you fumble awkwardly for your keycard, Indira tugs on your sleeve. “Hey! I’m here. Did you know?”

You take a deep breath and ask her why she’s bothering you.

Indira starts crying again, but you think you hear her say, “Hufflesnort ran away! Yummy cakes...was barking...soap.”

  1. Investigate the laundry room. [Go to Laundry]

  2. Find the source of the barking. [Go to Laundry]

Laundry

You follow flour-laced paw prints into the laundry room. A small beagle cowers behind a dryer, clearly shaken from some recent experience.

“You’re not so scary now, are you, mean pup?” Indira huffs. You ask her if she sees any sign of Hufflesnort.

“No, not here. He wanted to share cake with the dog.”

The search apparently isn’t over, and you’re not sure if you have any time or patience left to investigate another location.

  1. Check the kitchen, just to be thorough. [Go to Kitchen]

  2. Make up an excuse to leave. [Go to Excuses, Excuses]

  3. Tell her this is futile. [Go to Give Up]

Kitchen

The smell of honey cakes takes you to the kitchen. While the head baker is nowhere in sight, someone has pulled open every cupboard and drawer, and sweets litter the tile floor. A struggle of some sort seems to have taken place.

You notice that several thin strands of some sticky substance coat the countertops. Indira is quick to point out that the thickest segment leads up to the ceiling.

You have a not-so-great feeling about this.

  1. Make up an excuse to get outta there. [Go to Excuses, Excuses]

  2. Slowly tilt your head upward. [Go to Unsettling Reunion]

  3. Tell her to give up. [Go to Give Up]

Unsettling Reunion

END

Upon looking up, you spot what appears to be a giant black arachnid with a purple bow around its hairy abdomen. You try to scream but nothing comes out.

“You found Hufflesnort!” Indira exclaims joyfully, extending her arms toward the ceiling. The monstrosity lowers itself with a thick strand of webbing, and the two nuzzle each other affectionately.

The case of the missing pet resolved, you slowly back away from the unsettling reunion and sprint back to your cabin. Finally your head hits the pillow, but you’re pretty sure you’ll never sleep again.

Excuses, Excuses

END

You fib about having other matters to attend to but assure Indira that Hufflesnort will turn up. She thanks you for trying and resumes the search.

After a fitful nap, you awaken to a voice message from Liaison Officer Devi. “Indy wanted me to tell you Hufflesnort is home safe and sound! Her eight-legged pal can be a handful, but don’t worry; we put stronger locks on his cage this time!”

Your eyes widen as you try to imagine what exactly you let roam free when you gave up the search. You resolve to check Hufflesnort’s locks in the morning.

Give Up

END

Annoyed by this distraction, you sternly explain that you don’t have time for a pointless search. You tell Indira that Hufflesnort is never coming back, so she should just find a new pet.

Finally you can rest! You pass out as soon as your head hits the pillow, grateful to be rid of that needy little girl.

When you open your eyes, you find yourself face to face with a giant spider. It’s sporting a posh purple bow, for some reason.

“Hufflesnort!” Indira cries happily in the distance. You hope that’s not the last thing you hear before you die.

III. Linking Gameplay

An influential pharmaceutical company, HopeStar, sends its infectious disease research wing and a small security detail to retrieve an “eternal life” serum they have tracked to a remote planet. The struggling company plans to flaunt the serum at an upcoming press event that must garner investors to save HopeStar from bankruptcy. Scans of the planet reveal a lethal atmosphere, but the player is ambushed by ‘Mechs upon landing. Within one of the ‘Mechs, the player finds a withered humanoid lifeform connected to the machine by a neural link. The player is unable to detect life-signs with a scan, and the creature dies soon after the attempt.

The team advances to their objective, passing through ruins of a forgotten civilization. They encounter a facility with protective defenses and ‘Mech guards, and manage to disable each obstacle in due course. The new ‘Mechs also contain emaciated lifeforms. Inside, the player finds a sterile, abandoned lab. It is extremely technologically advanced, but seems untouched for many years.

While searching for the serum, the team finds official logs, video and audio recordings, and journal entries that paint a picture of the rise and fall of the society that discovered the “eternal life” serum centuries ago. The player also periodically disables additional defensive measures. Additionally, the player discovers signs that another group found the lab shortly before the player’s arrival. These clues indicate that the other group hacked into HopeStar’s research, are dedicated to finding the “eternal life” serum at all costs, and despise HopeStar.

The player breaks into the lab’s most fortified room but finds it empty. A video recording plays that ties all of the found items together: while the “eternal life” serum made these beings immune to sickness, it did not grant eternal youth. The serum also augmented the effects of hormones that regulate aggression and quickly turned its carriers into mindless killing machines. As chaos and bloodshed descend in the recording’s background, its speaker states that their society’s scientists preserved one vial of the serum, in the hope that another society would be able to remove its negative effects. Just as the speaker begins to explain how the serum works, the recording cuts off. The player finds a final clue indicating that the enemy group took the vial, sabotaged the final recording, and plans to use the flawed serum on HopeStar’s executive board as punishment for pollution, greed, and an unexplained additional crime.

The player speeds to HopeStar’s convoy, which has nearly reached the planet hosting the company’s pivotal press event. The player defeats the ‘Mechs guarding a few enemy crafts that have attached to HopeStar’s primary ship, then boards the primary ship. When the player encounters the enemy group on the bridge, the enemy leader confronts the board for polluting drinking water, which eventually killed his son. The player can either stop the enemy leader from smashing the vial and restrain them for arrest or flee the ship and let the serum infect and destroy the HopeStar executives.

***

Copyright Alexandra M. Lucas 2019

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