NaNOrlando – The Evolving Story of Nanos

Part 8 – Finale Setup

“According to the Librarian,” The Planner says as you and the rest of The League sit around the long wooden table in the center of the hall, lattes all around. “The last two stones can be found here on Earth. Walt Disney did find two of the Writing Gems during his life, but he hid them in Orlando. He was worried about his own staff trying to take the easy way out.”

A few members of The League laugh darkly.

“There’s nothing we can do about it,” she replies to the laugh. “The Face is gone. He made his choice, and we have to focus on moving forward.”

“Disney owns a massive amount of property,” Dr. Code says. “How can we expect to find the stones there? And that assumes the stones are in Disney and not hidden somewhere else.”

“True, but according to The Librarian, they were hidden in an undeveloped area. An area which was later turned into a park and is currently being used for an expansion.”

“We’re going to Galaxy’s Edge!” Whimsy shouts excitedly.

The Planner sighs. “Yes, Galaxy’s Edge.”

“Oh my God! I’m so excited!”

“Great,” The Planner replies dryly. “Everyone get ready. We need all of you at your best for this mission.”

An hour later, a fleet of League ships land in the middle of a construction zone in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A construction zone that is already inhabited by two other large ships, one of them Fragmentation.

“Nanos and the Illiterati are already here,” The Planner says. “This is going to be a fight.”

The League ships unload an army of Letters and Light heroes, all quickly met by scores of gremlin monsters. The Planner quickly organizes everyone into squads to fight off the gremlins, and for a time, they make gains, thinning out the waves of monsters.

“Team 11, to your left. Take out that flank!”

BOOM.

The sound echoes through the area as Nanos lands in the center of Team 11. With a flash of red light and a few softly spoken words, Team 11 turns on each other, fighting amongst themselves until only one is left standing.

“I like this new Gem,” Nanos calls across the field. He walks toward you, the Planner, Whimsy, and Dr. Code. “You all,” he says, “someone is missing.”

“You deal with us,” Whimsy says. “Me! Us, him, her. One at a time, all at once, whatever.”

“Please,” Nanos says with a flash of red light, “tell me more. Where is The Face?”

“He took off with the Setting Gem. He’s searching for the others. Actually.” Whimsy tilts her head, her hair catching in the wind. “I kind of thought he’d be here.”

An engine sounds in the distance, getting louder, closer. Another ship lands hard on the ground, crashing onto a bed of dirt-turned-pillows. The Face jumps out, landing equally far away from you and Nanos, his fist clenched. “Those stones are close,” he says, “and they are mine.”

The ground begins shaking and between the three groups, a hole opens. Through the hole rises a pillar of stone, a black metal box on top of it.

Nanos and The Face both take one step toward the box, then both stop. The black metal reflects a yellow light and no one moves.

“Neither of you want that,” The Planner says, her fist clenched in front of her, yellow light bleeding through her fingers,

“The Motivation Gem,” Whimsy squeals.

“Now,” The Planner continues, “let’s take a second and all think about why we’re here.”

The final moments are here. The League and Nanos stand mere feet away from each other, and all six Writing Gems are in the same place. Who will come out on top?

Part 7 – Homecoming

The ride back to Earth from Novem is tense to say the least. For the first few hours, The Face doesn’t speak a word, choosing to instead scowl out the front viewport, hands twitching constantly. Dr. Code buries himself in a laptop, LAIRD floating silently next to him.

As the ship approaches the blue and green jewel of Earth, Dr. Code finally speaks up. “There was nothing we could have done,” he says.

“True,” The Face replies. “There is nothing you could have done.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means that you all are holding me back.”

“We’re holding you back,” Dr. Code repeats, looking down at his screen. “You’ve barely trained all month. Your power levels are well below where they should be. Eight thousand, six hundred thirty-eight, right?”

The Face rolls the Setting Gem in the palm of his hand. “I’ve had to watch out for you and the rest of The League.” His fist closes around the Gem. “I can use this to boost my power! And collect the rest of the Writing Gems!” He yells as a bright green flare lights the ship’s interior. The walls of the ship reach out and wrap themselves around you, Dr. Code, and LAIRD, holding you all tight.

As you struggle against your restraints, the ship lands on solid ground. Through the viewport, you can see the silhouette of The League Headquarters. The Face looks out the viewport, giving the building a passing glance. “I’m tired of my weak numbers, and I’m not about to put in the work, especially now that I have the stone.”

The green light fills the ship again, and you sink through the ship’s walls, falling onto the ground. As you hit the dirt, the ship takes off again.

“Face, no!” The Planner runs out of the League building, screaming at the escaping ship.

“He turned on us,” Dr. Code says, picking himself up.

“I was worried about this,” The Planner says. “The Writing Gems are powerful tools and the Face is under pressure to perform. I just wish he hadn’t taken the easy way out.”

“What will we do without The Face?” Dr. Code asks.

“Move on,” she replies. “The Librarian told me about the last two stones. They’re here on Earth, and I suspect Nanos isn’t far behind.”

Part 6 – The Dialogue Gem Conclusion

“Hahaha,” Nanos laughs. “I’m disappointed. The League only sends three ‘heroes’ to stop me?” He bends down to pick-up the Gem under the stage. As he reaches down, the stage floor accordions shut again. Nanos raises a fist, and brings it down hard on the floor with a dull thud.

“Ah,” he says, looking down at the now solid rock floor, “you have your own Gem. That fool Inner Editor didn’t tell me that part of the story.” The Character Gem glows in his helmet, and the theater seats pull themselves free of the ground, surrounding you.

LAIRD begins firing lasers at the moving seats as you three get up from the floor. The red carpet lifts from the ground, and wraps itself around a large group of the seat creatures, while a dull thud sounds repeatedly from the stage area, as Nanos smashes his way through the transformed stage, punch by punch.

You jump in the fight, helping LAIRD and The Face fend off the seats, as they try to pin you down with their upholstered arms.

“Enough,” The Face says after fighting off another wave of red seats. The ground raises a pillar around his feet, carrying him over the seats and to the stage, leaving you, LAIRD, and the mostly useless Dr. Code behind to stand your ground against the seats.

The Face lands on the stage a few steps from Nanos, who raises his fist to take another punch at the stone. As he does, the ground turns liquid, and his hand splashes into the wet concrete, instantly solidifying around his submerged fist.

“Even the amazing Nanos can’t stop me, now that I have the Setting Gem.” The ground at The Face’s feet opens, and a red glow lights his face.

There is a deafening crunching sound as Nanos yanks his fist out of the stone, and a crack in the rock runs through the stage, knocking The Face on his back.

You defeat the last of the chairs and rush toward the stage, LAIRD and Dr. Code right behind.

“Boy, you don’t have the power to beat me,” Nanos says. He walks over to the hole and picks up the Dialogue Gem, placing it in his helmet. He looks down at The Face, but before Nanos can reach for his stone, the ground covers The Face like a dome, as LAIRD fires a laser into Nanos’s back.

“I’ll be back for that one,” Nanos says, and with a leap he is gone, leaving a blue and red trails behind briefly.

Part 5 – The Dialogue Gem Setup

After spending a day following clues throughout the Disney area, members of the League discovered that a being known as The Librarian may know the whereabouts of one or more of the Writing Gems. The Planner left immediately after the Write Around for The Librarian’s planet, Dewdec. She hasn’t gotten much information out of the eccentric collector of stories, but she did find out that the Dialogue Gem is on the planet of Novem.

“Novem is the homeworld of Nanos,” The Face says as you ride in the ship headed to the planet. “It isn’t surprising that one of the stones would be there, but this will likely be our hardest mission yet. Chances are high that Nanos will be there.”

The ship approaches the light blue sphere of Novem and begins to descend to its capital city, Ides. The city is large and sprawls over a great area. It looks like any major Earth city, with tall buildings of glass and steel, except a giant tower rises from the center of the city.

“There,” The Face says pointing to the tall tower. “That’s the Central Theater, and where The Librarian says the Dialogue Gem can be found.”

The ship lands on a platform of the Central Theater, and you disembark, following The Face and Dr. Code, his floating AI cube LAIRD following behind.

The building itself is magnificent, gilded arches and ornate statues covering every inch of the facade. Yet, even that splendor is shadowed by the elegance of the inside of the building. The Central Theater is not just one theater, but a series of hundreds of theaters.

“The Wrimos,” Dr. Code says, “are a people whose entire civilization is built on stories. Storytelling is practically a religion to them. Makes sense that they would build theaters on the level of a church.”

“They get the point,” The Face says, cutting off Dr. Code. “Focus now. We need that Gem.” He looks around and rubs a hand on his leg. “And it’s close,” he adds softly.

The Face leads you up through a series of stairwells, floor after floor of theaters, balconies, and concession stands. After climbing what feels like twenty floors, all unique in design and style, if not function, The Face stops. “This is it,” he says as he darts through the door to the stage level. Rows of ornately upholstered seats line either side of the main aisle he runs down.

You and Dr. Code quickly follow behind, but The Face’s unexpected haste puts him twenty paces ahead of you. As he runs, a green glow emits from his clenched fist, and the stage floor begins to fold over on itself opening like an accordion. From the opening, a red glow shines faintly.

As The Face puts his foot on the stage, there is a flash of movement, a blue blur, and a bang, as Nanos drops from the catwalk onto the floor just in front of The Face. With a quick punch, Nanos sends The Face flying off the stairs and down the aisle, falling directly into you and Dr. Code. You all stumble, ending in a heap on the red carpeted floor.

You must hurry if you are going to stop Nanos! He’s seconds away from grabbing his second Writing Gem, so get those words written so that we can stop him!

Part 4 – The Setting Gem Concluded

Your ship lands, following the red streak of Scrutinizer. League members quickly disembark and prepare for a fight as Inner Editor walks calmly off his ship, his oversized red gun Corrector slung over his shoulder.

The area you landed in looks like something out of a dream. The surface looks like a checkerboard of terrain, snow, water, grass, sand all side-by-side, like a bizarre tile store for ground. Sections of the sky vary every 15 degrees, stormy clouds, beautiful sunrises, cloudless blue, and extremes like tornadoes and hurricanes.

“This is all wrong,” Inner Editor says looking around. “No continuity, no structure. Work denied, go back and try again.”

His gaze wanders down toward the collected League members. “And you all, there’s no recovering you.” He slides Corrector off his shoulder, aims the pointed tip at The Planner, and fires. She jumps out of the way, and lands hard in a patch of desert sand. The red tinged laser blast barely misses The Planner’s leg as she dives, and hits the ground a few feet away creating a large impact point out of which a green glow emits.

The Face reacts first, yelling “The Setting Gem,” as he runs toward the spot.

Inner Editor fires again, narrowly missing over the top of Face’s shoulder as he drops to the ground, digging frantically. Inner Editor fires again as Face comes up with a glowing green gem in his hand. He sees the bolt, and instinctively moves his hand in front of him to block it.

As he does, a patch of rocky ground in front of him jumps up, blocking the blast of Corrector in a shower of rocky rubble.

For a few seconds, no one moves, all staring mouth agape at the shattered rock jutting up from the ground. As it slowly dawns on The Face what had happened, a small smile curls across his lips. He grasps the Setting Gem tightly in his fist and wall of sand pops up from the ground and buries Inner Editor up to his shoulders.

“Oh, the power,” The Face says softly.

“Not even a completed job,” Inner Editor quips. “Minions, attack.”

At his command, a wave of hundreds of tiny gremlin-like creatures rush off of Scrutinizer, and start to swarm toward you and the other heroes. You brace for a fight as they cut you off from your ship, but before you can even throw your first punch, the ground opens beneath them. They fall into the rift, and as quickly as it appeared, the ground seals together again without a sound.

“Let’s go,” The Face says cooly. “There are still 4 Writing Gems out there, and we can’t let Nanos beat us to them.” He begins walking back toward your ship, and as you follow him up the ramp, ignoring the screams and curses of Inner Editor, the deafening sound of metal being ripped apart echoes through the area. As you take the last steps up the ramp, you look over your shoulder to see Scrutinzer repeatedly punctured by jagged spikes of rock from the ground.

Part 3 – The Setting Gem

With the collection of the Character Gem, Nanos begins his sweep across the cosmos. From Creatara, he goes to the planets of Faulkner, Timkim, and Marya and decimates their theaters, libraries, and other repositories of knowledge. At every planet, Nanos captures their stories and destroys their writers, directors, and artists. He is savage in his determination to be the only storyteller left.

The League has dispatched teams to these places, and they have fought valiantly to defend those worlds. Most have not returned, and those that have tell of overwhelming numbers of creatures, legions and armies of monsters swarming like ants across the land.

Meanwhile, Baty sent us a communication from the Planet of the Plot Bunnies. After sending us the early reports of Nanos’ return, he has been hard at work talking to elder Plot Bunnies to find more information about the Writing Gems and their locations. He uncovered a legend that tells of “a place that makes places.” He believes that story refers to the Setting Gem and hints that it might be found on Messrathea.

It isn’t much to go on, but we are desperate. We are losing heroes every day, and if we don’t collect one of the Writing Gems, Nanos could become unstoppable.

You arrive at Messrathea to find a massive planet. The surface of the planet looks like a patchwork quilt of map pieces. Beaches butt up to cliff faces, grassy plains abruptly end and are replaced by arid desert.

“That place is massive,” The Face says. “How in the world are we going to find the Setting Gem there?”

The Planner points to an area to the northeast of your ship, where a smaller planet, still probably the size of Earth, sits half-formed just off the surface, long tendrils holding it in place next to Messrathea. “That looks like the factory sector,” she says. “If there is a central point to the ‘place that makes places’, that would probably be it.”

She angles the ship toward the surface below the smaller planetoid. As she fires the accelerator, another ship zips overhead, rushing to the same location, leaving a long red streak in its path.

“Inner Editor,” The Face says softly, staring at the long cylindrical red shape of the ship Scrutinizer. “Move fast, Planner, we have to beat him to the gem.”

And so, you ride on the edge of your seat as you rush to beat Inner Editor to the second Writing Gem. If Nanos collects this second stone, all could be lost. We need everyone’s help to defeat his minions this time!

Part 2 – The Character Gem Concluded

Doc Proc turns to face you at your approach. “Ah, look, The League has arrived. Can I interest you all in a game? A show perhaps? There’s a new season of Stranger Things to binge!”

“Your procrastinating ways won’t work on us Doc Proc,” The Face declares, but without the confidence he intended. “Now leave this place before we have to make you leave!”

Her arms moving menacingly as she takes a few steps towards you and the other assembled heroes. “Not just yet, first I want to have some fun.” She laughs softly. “And what sounds fun right now is kicking your butts!”

Doc Proc leaps forward, landing on two of her clawed arms and swinging the others toward you. The Face grabs hold of the fidget spinner and quickly loses focus. With a far-off look, he spins it absently in his hands.

“Quick,” The Planner calls to the other heroes, “Publisher, get behind her, I’ll distract her from here.”

Publisher does as she says, trying to circle around Doc Proc while avoiding the video game controller and cell phone as she offers them temptingly. He makes it behind her as The Planner says, “You’re running out of time, Proc! Nanos won’t be able to get the gem once we have it.”

“No,” she screams, turning around quickly.

As she turns, Publisher, tosses his signature Deadline Lasso to you. You pull it tight, catching Doc Proc in the line. She falls to the ground with a metallic clunk, and you race to tie her up, ensnaring her in her one weakness.

But your moment of triumph is short lived. A flash of light is followed by a loud bang and a wave of sand is blasted out. As it clears, you see the imposing figure of Nanos, standing with Hreffler’s neck held tightly in his gloved fist.

“The League of Letters and Light will not stop me,” he says coldly. With his free hand, he pulls the Character Gem from Hreffler’s staff, and places it in the horn of his helmet. As it seats itself in the slot, it glows a bright blue, and Nanos appears to swell in size. He closes his fist tightly around Hreffler’s neck, then tosses her lifeless form aside. He takes a deep breath, and then exhales a blue mist that turns into an army of small gremlin creatures. “Oh, the power,” he whispers, and with a leap he is gone.

Finally putting the fidget spinner down, The Face looks around like a man waking from a dream. “What? Oh god, Mrs. Hreffler is dead!”

There’s no time to mourn as the creatures swarm around the League.

“We have to retreat!” The Planner shouts. “Back to the ship!”

Our power of story wasn’t enough to defeat Nanos this time. There will be other days and other battles. The fight against Nanos isn’t over—there are more story gems to find and more words to write. Next time, avoiding procrastination, attending League meetings, and writing more words, we’re sure to defeat Nanos!

Part 1 – The Character Gem

There is rumor of a being on the planet Creatara that can bring objects to life, make creatures speak, and even bring forth people from their mind. This could be little more than an urban legend, but it could also be the first of the Writing Gems, the Character Gem.

We have dispatched a group of heroes from the League of Letters and Light to search for this being. According to the legends, this being goes by the odd name Hreffler (and no, the H is not silent).

By the time you arrive on Creatara, Nanos’ ship Fragmentation is already circling the planet.  This will not be a simple grab and bag as we had hoped.

On the planet’s surface, you find a world shrouded in a dense fog, full of unseen wildlife. The noises of movement against the amorphous white view send a chill down the spine of The Face, The Planner, and the rest of the League team.

“We should head that way,” The Face says, pointing in a seemly random direction.

“Maybe,” The Planner says in her calm tones, “but let’s check the scanners first to see if that’s the right way.” To no one’s surprise, the scanners suggest that a settlement is nearby in the opposite direction of that which The Face suggested.

As the group approaches the settlement, they hear a faint buzzing sound. It grows louder as they approach, and is joined by the occasional beep and click.

“I think I see a light ahead, through the fog,” The Face says.

As you approach, you see not one, but two faint lights through the fog. The buzzing sound can still be heard, and you begin to recognize it as the sound of spinning ball bearings. A cold dread rushes over you, because that can only mean one thing.

You take the final steps forward and the fog lifts enough  the see shapes. It’s a small town, a central circle surrounded by four small wooden shacks. Standing in the middle of the circle, facing each other are two women. One wears worn leather clothes, and holds a wooden staff in her hand, a glowing blue gem at the top. Her long grey hair trails wildly around her, and even covers her face in what might be a beard.

But it is the other woman who draws the attention of the League, with her long red hair and six robotic arms moving wildly. Each arm clutches a different device, a cell phone, a TV Remote, multiple gaming devices, and a fidget spinner, still making a faint buzzing sound.

Doctor Patricia Procházka, better known as Doc Proc, now stands between you and the first Writing Gem. What will you do now?

Introduction

We are the heroes of the League of Letters and Light. Our mission is to bring literacy to the world through the power of fascinating fiction. Much like other lesser-known leagues, we work on our own, striving in our own boroughs and cities to inspire people through our prose, but in times of great need, the signal is lit and The League comes together.

This is one of those times. Our greatest enemy, Nanos, has returned (as he seems to do every November). Nanos, a being of immense power, and his legion of minions, the Illiterati, have fought against great story-telling since the beginning of time, or 1999.

Last year, The League fought valiantly, and Nanos was blasted into space, over 15.5 million miles away. Unfortunately, he crash landed on the homeworld of the peaceful Plot Bunnies, a world full of mystery, action, and suspense. It appears that while there, he learned the legend of the Writing Gems, 6 powerful stones that control all stories. We have a contact in the land of the Plot Bunnies, a Chris Baty, and he tells us that Nanos believes these stories to be true, and is, as we speak seeking out the 6 Gems.

It is now up to us to stop Nanos by any means necessary. Only through the power of your words can we, as a league, be mighty enough to defeat Nanos and his Illiterati. We will face many challenges along the way, and at each turn, you decide whether we will succeed or fail. Nanos is stronger than he ever was before, and we will need to unite as a League to defeat him. Only when we unite, writing more words than ever, will we succeed.

Only we have the strength of story to stand against him. Others may aid us in our fight, but the tide of battle will be determined by you.