Saturday, 5 August 2017

Let's Talk About: Fripp

Fripp has been introduced to us as the Leader of the Druids, a talking blue squirrel with otherworldly powers, and a friend to the Soulriders. But what is he, where did he come from, and what does he really want? Let's review what we know about him.

"It all started thousands and thousands of years ago, when my people and I traveled from star system to star system with a terrible cargo."
- Fripp, SSL:TLOP

It is quickly established in the original Starshine Legacy games (particularly episode 3, The Legend Of Pandoria) that Fripp is an ancient being from beyond the stars. Literally from outer space. After capturing Garnok, Fripp and his people traveled via starship, heading toward the end of the galaxy to leave Garnok imprisoned for eternity, but their plan was foiled when Garnok's henchmen broke free and attempted to take over the ship, leading to the crash in the deep ocean off Jorvik's coast.

But not only is Fripp thousands of years old, he is eons old. Seemingly immortal, without requiring any kind of sustenance, as the entire crew and cargo lay on the bottom of the ocean passed out for years. They then left Garnok and his henchmen on the ship, trapped there, and have been guarding them since.

"We were four guardians, four powerful heroes, each holding one of the locks that held the monster Garnok imprisoned. Over the centuries the Generals have made many attempts to free their master, but we have stopped them! We have chosen four champions who share our powers... these champions are called the Soulriders!"
- Fripp, SSL:TLOP

And so we find that Fripp is one of four creatures from a distant star, who has split his power with a champion in order to fight Garnok by proxy. So the Soulriders are not their own entities but rather a part of the soul or power of each guardian, reincarnated over the centuries to fight a never-ending war. Who are the other three? We may never meet them.

So this explains, at least, how Fripp so easily recognizes each of the Soulriders when they come into play. Throughout the Starshine Legacy comics and games, Fripp recognises each girl by name and knows her power and destiny, without ever having met her before.

"One day we hope to find the book because it will make the ceremony more powerful and it contains secrets written by ancient druids which we have forgotten or don’t know the meaning of today."
- Fripp, What Is The Book Of Ceremonies?

Fripp is ancient, incredibly powerful, able to bridge the gap between our world and Pandoria on his own. He can recall details of centuries past, but... how could he not remember the details in the Book Of Ceremonies? A ceremony he must have used hundreds of times, as his entire reason for being here is to use it to keep Garnok at bay. He and his three fellow guardians could not have forgotten how to perform their duties, unless they are actually starting to go insane over time. Fripp does not always talk as a sane person should.

And he does not recognise our main character in Star Stable Online. She is not a reincarnation of a Soulrider, we know that much. There is debate, based on the opening sequence of Star Stable Online, whether our character is Aideen reborn. But Fripp is eons old, hugely knowledgeable, and seems to worship Aideen himself. How could he not recognise the incarnation of his Goddess when he sees her? Or even a prophet of Aideen incarnate?

But enough of that. What do we know about Fripp for sure? We know the powers of he and his kind are directly drawn from Pandoria.

"We have activated the four seals! They are gathering the energy needed to release Garnok! [...] Little do they know that these seals are linked to their powers. We're stealing their own powers to unleash our glorious master!"
- Mr Sands, SSL:TRODC

The Soulriders were created by the guardians, given a share in the guardians' powers. And in Starshine Legacy: The Riddle Of Dark Core we face a new threat in that the minions of Garnok have put seals on the Soulriders' link to Pandoria. With these seals in place, Garnok's minions are able to leech the powers of the Soulriders in order to feed their own agenda, which establishes that the Soulriders and, by extension, Fripp and his kind pull their power from Pandoria.

"You can be sure that Dark Riders, being the opposite in every way to our Soul Riders, must have some connection to Garnok."
- Elizabeth, Meeting In Dark Times

If the Darkriders are the perfect opposites to the Soulriders, then it stands to reason that the Darkriders were created by Garnok and his minions as their own champions. Perhaps Katja and Sabine are not the original henchmen, but created by them, as the Soulriders are not the original guardians. And if the Darkriders are perfect opposites, it stands to reason that they pull their own powers from Pandoria as well, which Fripp only supports in his own comment.

"There are enemies out there with powers just like yours. Good luck, Alex!"
- Fripp, SSL:TLOP

Just like hers, drawn from Pandoria, with abilities to travel to Pandoria or to Soulstrike. The idea that the Darkriders are not the original guardians but created by them is only supported further by Fripp's origin story.

"Garnok is still trapped in the ship with his Generals, but they are doing everything they can to release him from his prison. These creatures are not human. They have powers beyond your imagination! The Generals use their mental powers to materialise in Jorvik - like Mr Sands, the girl Jessica, and even your enemy, Katja."
- Fripp, SSL:TLOP

What seems scarier to me is the idea that Garnok and the Generals share the same powers and interstellar origin as Fripp and his guardians. Could they all be the same? Two sides of a war from the same galaxy, a civil war within the same species. Can Fripp really be trusted if he is of the same origin as Garnok? Can we trust the Keepers of Aideen, a faction that does not even recognise their own Goddess incarnate, who seem to have mysteriously "forgotten" how to do their job, and who barely trusts their Goddess with her own powers?

If you know me, you know my opinion of Garnok's capture. Who's to say that Fripp is as trustworthy as we're told, or that Garnok is as guilty? Could Fripp feel threatened by us?

"And who really are you? Really? Who are you? [...] Do you know who you are…? No. Who could even answer such a question anyway…? [...] I suppose it’ll be quicker for me to just give you a wand rather than spend time telling you all the reasons why you shouldn’t have one."
- Fripp, A Trip To Fripp

"As desirable as the powers [she] has, they still need to be trained and controlled."
- Fripp, Meeting In Dark Times

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Let's Talk About: Mr Sands

"Mr Sands is my grandfather and I will be there for him when he needs me. Together we are going to rule the world." 
 - Justin, Justin's Story

Mr Sands has an unclear history, but there are parts we can piece together. We know he is a follower of Garnok, and as such is no ordinary human - he's lived for centuries, at least, and is intimately tied to the history of Garnok as told in the runes of the Stonering in the original comics, identifying his real name, Sangordha.
"Think again, Sands... or should I say Sangordha? I know your real name, and I've drained all your powers in this place." 
- Lisa, Starshine Legacy Comic: Dark Core Rising

It's easy to assume that he may have been one of the original followers of Garnok to arrive on Jorvik when Garnok did. He's an avid believer, desperate to bring Garnok back, and in this pursuit he's taken many identities.

The thus-far earliest documented instance of Mr Sands is in 1871, when he went by the name Mr Sanders and lived as a fisherman who caught a Garnok-like creature from the Kraken Depths, just near Jorvik Bay. This odd deep sea creature closely resembles one of the generals depicted in the Pandorian runes that Anne discovered, but we believe this particular one to be dead. Unfortunate. It's possible that Mr Sanders was initially posing as a fisherman to find these minions, fishing near a location that could very well have been named after a sighting of Garnok's tentacled self - Kraken Depths.

In 1890, just 19 years later, Mr Sands has chosen the name Owen D. Sands, and started his drilling company, Deep Core. Under the guise to industrialize Jorvik, his aim is to drill into the heart of the island, an aim reminiscent of something some Jorvikian citizens have noticed happening today.

Perhaps Mr Sands was trying even then to drill underground to Pandoria, or down to Garnok's cage in some way.

But whatever his aim, his business venture became riddled with disaster and was forced to close over the course of a year.

In 1903, the first major accident struck. 190 dead in a cave-in, at the Deep Core 3 mining site. Details aren't given, but just over a year later, in 1904, Deep Core's closure is announced.

The closure follows an even more devastating accident, resulting in the deaths of 211 workers and 14 civilians. The closure occurs at least seven months after this incident, though the incident is identified as the cause. 

This final accident is even more ambiguously written than the first, attributed to a "cave-in/gas" accident. Whatever the cause, the loss was devastating, and it's likely that this ended Sands' ability to run a drilling company for the foreseeable future.

"Apparently I had an old wedding photo lying around; one of me and the man that used to be my husband, Mr… Sand… man." 
 - The Baroness, The Explanation

In more recent years, for reasons unknown, Mr Sands sought to take the name John Sandman, claiming to have grown up in Firgrove, and settled down with a family. With his wife, the Baroness of Silverglade, he had a son, Thomas Moorland. Their divorce is for an undisclosed reason, though it was likely because the Baroness discovered Sands' true identity. 

Around the same time, Mr Sands branched into land ownership, having been given Moorland Stables by the Baroness and owning at least one house in Firgrove which was leased to Mrs Packard, and was even a member of the Firgrove Council in 1959.

"I think that John Sandman was the man I paid my rent to when I first took over this house fifty years ago. And God knows, but I wonder if I’m not paying the rent to him still." 
 - Mrs Packard, Talk With The Elders
Since then, he's made his home at Pine Hill Mansion and become known throughout the games as the owner of Dark Core, a corporation with an unknown purpose other than to free Garnok.

During Sands' time with Dark Core, he faced Anne whose horse kicked him into a portal, resulting in wild disfigurement and loss of power which will take him "years" to recover. It is unknown how long has passed between present day and then, so it is unknown if Sands' has come back to full power by this stage.

Nevertheless, he has still managed to wreak havoc for the "good guys" in the story. He has taken his own grandson, Justin Moorland, to become a substitute Dark Rider in place of Elise. He managed to find the Lost Light Ceremony Book which he can use to unleash Garnok. He has been responsible for the banishment of Lisa and Anne into Pandoria, and was likely the cause for Meteor's lost memory and may have Concorde in his grip. And his minions have been stealing and drugging horses, presumably in pursuit of converting the ideal dark horse for his riders, though his right-hand man Darko knows how to convert Dark Horses himself.
"However much our honorable Mr Sands wants his innocent little grandson to take on the role of potential substitute for our most distinguished Elise, both you and I know that Justin has no magical talent whatsoever." 
- Darko, Darko
In all this, though Mr Sands is the big bad and the Dark Riders bend to his will, we find out through Darko that Sands' decision to train Justin is not an entirely savvy move. Indeed, the decision seems to have been made through affection for his grandson, rather than because Justin might have a gift for the task. Perhaps Sands has a heart after all.