The God Factor is the fifth episode of The Chain. It aired on February 27th, 2019.
The End of Omega Nails
The senior officers of the Chain of Acheron are on the Captain’s deck of the Somnium Tenebris. A large room with purple walls, textured with pulsing veins. Nails is unconscious following the failed summoning of Commander Red, who appeared not alive and restored as intended, but as an undead lich-like creature. Red still wears his armor and livery, but his body is torn and discolored. He howls, his face pulling back to show a horrifying demonic visage that causes the three remaining Gith to turn to ash.
Sweet pulls Nails’ body into a hug and attempts to plunge the arrow into his back. Nails’ eyes open, silver once more. “I dreamed I was a god. Why.. Why do Humans have so many gods? The Elves only have one, the Dwarves only have one, but we have hundreds. I wonder if Ajax knows.” His voice grows to its previous booming mind-resonating tone as he continues to speak, addressing Judge: “You should have killed me while you had the chance, like you killed Zaal and Elcor. You will find I am not so easily fooled. Would you like to meet them again? I can bring them back too.” Sweet cuts him off, saying “I know you, Durand Erenheart. Sorry, buddy.” And stabs him. On hearing his true name, Nails briefly reverts to his usual self and blurts out to King: “King! Don’t trust the-“ before howling in pain on being stabbed. An explosion of opalescent energy erupts out from the sorcerer, ripping through Nails as well as Sweet. Red screams out as a portal open beneath him, and a demonic hand pulls him back through to hell.
The elevator doors open and two figures emerge. Boots and Two-Shoes. Boots exclaims “My friends! I am so glad you are not dead!” They explain that Sweet and Nails are dead and that King is now the Commander of the Chain, as Copper picks up and puts on Sweet’s hat. The ship is listing, dying. Boots tells the other officers that they found what might be a prison. Built into the walls around the command chair are drawers. When searched, these drawers give some gold, a book of Higaran nobility, a silver lyre, a microscope, a book of fairy’s tales, navigator’s tools, some jasper, a medium-sized rainbow crystal, potions of healing, a small gemstone in a pouch, and a bag of smooth blood red stones.
Recruit, Free, Kill
Boots leads the team to the Command Deck immediately beneath the Captain’s Deck, the room with the pool of liquid. Crossing the room and taking another elevator down from there takes them to a brig. A long corridor with intersecting grids of bars. Checking out the cells, they see a figure sitting in one, a Mind Flayer wearing a robe and ceramic collar. They talk to him, and he explains he was thrown in here when he argued against the killing of another prisoner. He preferred the idea of torturing her first. Further down, they find a female prisoner with short blue hair and teal skin.
The team questions the girl, wary of her after Nails’ warning. She tells them her name is Aslaug, a gardener and herbalist from Cupric, a city in Quintessence. She and her mate had been traveling to the Mundane World when they were captured. The imprisoned Illithid killed her mate. She says she doesn’t know who Ajax is, but that if she escaped she would go to Capital.
Judge tries the small gemstone they found, it seems to improve his sight. He attempts to make progress with the taciturn Mind Flayer, asking how the jail doors can be opened and offering to let the creature out. Judge is interested in allowing him to join the Chain, if he can convince the other officers. King is partially convinced, considering letting the Mind Flayer free as long as he doesn’t attack Aslaug.
For now, they leave these two prisoners alone and make their way along the two cells. The only other prisoner is a tall, lanky and bony Gith. Sitting up on seeing King approaching. He laughs as he recognizes the Chain of Acheron, and begins to bargain for his freedom, saying that he has valuable information and can pilot the ship. He’s no admirer of Ajax, saying “I’m nobody’s slave. A being like that doesn’t have allies, only slaves.” He tells the Chain that the Rod of Absorption is also the Command Rod governing the ship. With a thought, King is able to use it to open the cell and free D’jelek. D’jelek knows the ship is dying and that it must be fed, and suggests feeding the Mind Flayer to it. Boots nicknames the Gith Slim, based on his figure. He agrees to join the Chain but doesn’t swear the oath right now. They also agree to free the Genasi Aslaug, whom Judge nicknames Blue. Judge has her begin to wash Ajax’s symbol from the sails, assisted by Slim.
Prepare for Warp
King goes below decks of the Rosso Cielo to tell Lady Massingham, about their losses and capture of the Somnium Tenebris. Godesto tells the crew to prepare to return to the Mundane World. The Chain moves over from the Rosso Cielo. King tells Lady Massingham that the Somnium Tenebris is able to make the jump between worlds and take the Rosso Cielo with it. She shakes his hand. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope I never see you again.” Godesto promises to give an overview of the situation in Capital once they arrive in the city, though this never comes to pass.
Judge goes to rest in one of the ship’s quarters, the bed is like a water bed. Slim reclines in the pilot’s seat, its tendrils connecting to him through discolorations on his skin, forming the connection between him and the ship and giving him his Pilot abilities. The Navigator speaks directly to his brain: “This is Ship Intelligence. There are critical faults in all organ systems. Estimate complete cellular breakdown in failures in thirteen uvas”. Slim asks how to fix the damage, learning that protein is needed. There are 15 officer’s quarters and 80 slave quarters, and Slim gives each of the senior officers the proper permissions, so their handprints will open all doors except the one to Slim’s bedroom.
There are many casks of cloyingly sweet and viscous Mind Flayer ale, crates of food, and bolts of spider silk in supply, which Cook takes charge of, along with Blue. Checking the Navigator’s logs they find that the Mind Flayer is named Suyeerin.
They each take a rest, leaving Blue and a few men to help clean and repair the sails. The next day, while Slim is making friends with Bigcat, Judge identifies the loot taken from the Captain’s Quarters. They find the gemstone to be an Ioun Stone of Awareness. The blood-red stones are Blood Pebble Armor, that absorbs into one’s skin. Copper is given the armor and he applies it. The other crystal is a Medium Psionic Crystal, which gives a person limited psionic abilities.
Now that it’s safe, they learn from Slim about the uprising against the Mind Flayers. Mortum appeared to the Gith and offered them the power needed to overthrow the Illithids if they serve Ajax. The Gith agreed, and although Slim participated in the uprising, he refused to follow Ajax, since that would be trading one set of masters for another. Slim also lets them know that there must be an agent of Ajax either in the Chain or on the Rosso Cielo, since the Gith were able to find the Rosso Cielo in the Astral Sea.
They discuss the identity of the spy, concluding that it isn’t the Mind Flayer or Genasi, but is likely to be someone on the Rosso Cielo. Their thoughts turn to Jasper, the man they saw Commander Sweet talk to, and they send for Angel who was tasked with tailing the man. Angel meets them as supplies to be brought from the Rosso, wanting to talk privately with Judge. King intercepts this and pulls rank, asking Angel to find the spy before letting Judge and Angel talk. In the Rosso Cielo’s hold, full of sale goods, Angel shows Judge the dead body he found. It is Zarrok, a Dwarf who served the Chain, dead for three days and purposefully stuffed into a crate. Angel tells Judge that he’s seen Zarrok more recently than that. Judge asks Angel to track down Zarrok, settling on a code phrase. To check in, Judge will ask Angel whether Bigcat is hungry. If Bigcat is hungry, then there’s trouble. They part ways.
Meanwhile, King heads back to his quarters and finds a dead Angel, his throat cut, blood all over him, and a knife in his hand. He’s probably been dead seconds. King casts Revivify to bring him back. This Angel tells him he’s been killed by a doppelganger of himself. King assembles the senior officers in the officer’s mess, speaking to them with the revived Angel there. It dawns on them that they have a changeling on their hands.