barbelith

Getting Killed Doesn't Keep You From Winning...
Just From Celebrating.

Everything was in place. Every precaution had been taken. Greg, Jinan, Rusty and his drones were all poised to strike. The still air around the checkpoint felt electrically charged from the impending calamity. Jinan steeled herself and gave Rusty the signal. The door in front of her snapped open, revealing a number of bewildered guards. Fortunately Jinan was not so unprepared, and she lobbed several breathtaker grenades inside just before the door descended once more and it’s locks slid into place. As the chaos engulfed the the checkpoint she could hear the frantic poundings on the other side of the door, and couldn’t resist and impish grin.

Greg had drawn a bead on one of the guards. The guard sat on his bike positioned behind some rocks not far from the road. But as Greg focused his gaze, and centered his energy, he infiltrated the thoughts of the guard, dominating his will, and commanded him to open fire on his companions. And as the rest of the guards shook off their shock they began to respond the their compatriots gunfire. Rusty, succumbing to a mischievous urge, was busy hacking the turret mounted on the side of the building. And as the machine gun rounds pumped out of the turrets barrel, the nimrod zeroed in its own targeting autosoft and began emptying its clips. The guards, by grace of their training, managed to recover their composure and respond to the attacks. They turned on their companion and the hijacked turret with a fury undaunted by their confusion. But as the controlled biker fell, and the turret was reduced to scrap, a fire spirit sprang into being in the midst of their ranks, engulfing the nearest guard in a shrieking cacophony.

The Tyrell team was reeling. One guard standing in the road made a dash for his bike. Another guard was mind controlled by Greg and opened fire, but the runner out-paced the rounds. He ducked frantically as a rocket fired by the nimrod shrieked over his head and rocked into the side of the van, blowing it to pieces and killing two more guards beside it. But the runner pressed on against the shrapnel and leaped onto the back of his motorcycle. He jammed on the gas and squealed away from the carnage, and as he pulled away from the building a round from Jinan’s Predator smashed into the side of his skull. Bike and rider crashed to the ground.

But the remaining guards rallied to their lieutenant, taking cover behind the road blocks. They finally managed to track the fire of the nimrod, and it was torn from the sky; but not before causing considerable damage. The fire spirit immolated another guard before it was dispersed. The lieutenant finished off the last guard mind controlled by Greg, and surveyed the wreckage that had been his placid post. He was the last of his team left standing. He thought he saw something moving out of the corner of his eye, moving into the office. He closed in to investigate, and as he opened the door to the gas-filled office, Jinan sprung on him from the swirling cloud. She tried to pitch the guard forward into the office to seal him in. But somehow her legs failed her, and the guard remained planted. Jinan had a half-formed curse on her lips as the lieutenant turned his assault rifle on her and opened fire. She was driven to the ground by the force of the volley. Her ribs fractured as hot lead tore thru her armor and flesh. She gasped for breath with bleeding lungs as darkness enveloped her senses.

Greg saw Jinan go down and snapped into action. He mind controlled the final guard and commanded him to take the trauma patch from Jinan’s bag and apply it to her. She was jolted back into consciousness, and sat up blinking and dazed.

“So that’s what astral projecting is like!”

She limped shakily to her feet, and wasted no time in returning the favor to her assailant. She took grim satisfaction at the flicker of desperation that struggled to pass the bovine tranquility in his eyes; held sway by Greg’s spell as he was. His execution brought an end to the savage conflict. They had prevailed over seemingly insurmountable odds…barely. And now they were left with the spoils of victory: clean up.

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Don't Forget to Check Your Points...
and Boarder Your Patrols.

The gang sat on the floor of Greg’s high rise apartment. Feeling starving and mentally sore from the trip, they sojourned at the Lewis & Clark bar to scarf pancakes, and struggle to recall the fleeting images of their plane-tripping experience. After resting they recovered and set back to work. Rusty received a communication from the Ancients about a job. Rakeel contacted them about helping them get a shipment of laes across the border into the Metroplex. The group thought this would mesh well with their standing job from AWE to harry the Corporate Courts interest in moving into Casa Tir. To sweeten the deal, Rusty got them to throw in a few doses of the useful drug. The party set themselves to this new task with vigor.

The ground work of any good raid is good surveillance, so Rusty sent the nimrod out under the guise of its cloak to survey the scene. It showed a long electrified fence punctuated by a single story building featuring an external turret and a road block. Numerous guards, sporting various grades of heavy, peppered the grounds, some hidden in the rocks on bikes, some blocking the road, some sitting in a van. There were others in the building as well. But more interestingly there was a curious device outside the checkpoint that was revealed to be a magic dampener; a machine that affected the background count. Everyone acknowledged that this was the most ambitious undertaking they had pursued, and got to work trying to tip the odds in their favor as steeply as they could.

Jinan purchased a number of Breathtaker gas grenades, with the intention of throwing several into the checkpoint office and having Rusty seal the doors to choke the trapped guards and reduce the numbers. Greg was to levitate over the fence and reel out his mage-sight goggles and cast from safety. Rusty would disable the magic dampener and then attack from the front. Easy.

Dusk fell quickly on the lonely checkpoint. Rusty went to work hacking first the communications network. He looped in a message from their satellite dish that “all was well,” and was careful to cover his tracks. Then he hacked the security node of the building, taking control of the doors, lights, the defenses and alarms, and most importantly gained control of the magic dampener. He made sure to shut that off. Greg approached the fence from further down and levitated himself over, well out of view of the pensive guards. After Rusty shut off the cameras Jinan crept up to the building and scaled the wall to the roof. She approached the opposite side and silently slid into place by the door. The skies were clear, but a storm had gathered.

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Only take what you can handle...
and always know your dealer

The party followed the magic lines in the floor further down, and those attuned could sense a surge of mana as they traveled down. This floor was also guarded by a priest, which chastised Greg’s entity for not fulfilling his duties leading the ritual. Greg acknowledged and the group moved on. Resisting the urge to follow the lure to its source, the gang sought information from the archives which were on the way. Jinan had still not connected with her host, and as such could not interpret the language. The others however found much useful information. Greg found a formula for a spell he could learn. Meanwhile Rusty searched for detailed schematics of the space fighter he hacked above, and made a specific effort to commit them to his memory for future use. He also found some samples of the aliens music and finding it very much to his tastes absorbed as much of it as he could. This done, the group moved on to what they knew to be a ritual room which fed the mana flow which provided the energy off which this society ran, having found a way to integrate and power their technology from this mana flow. Jinan hung back to observe, but Greg was caught up in his possessed personality. He went to assume his place as a priest at the head of the ceremony. Farnsworth, thoroughly enjoying his trip so far, joined in to the ceremony and began merging his essence with their system. Jinan observed that when participants grew fatigued from their participation they moved over to a fountain off to the side of the room and refreshed themselves. Fearing that Farnsworth and the others were getting to caught up in the moment, she grabbed him and dragged him to the pool, dunking him in. He instantly vanished from the archivists body, awakening back on Earth and leaving a sputtering alien in Jinan’s hands. She released him and withdrew just as the connection started to fade for the rest of them too. They soon all found themselves sitting up on the floor of Greg’s apartment, Farnsworth looking like a wet cat.

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If the key fits...

The group awoke in a room covered in runes. When they looked at each other and themselves they discovered that they had elongated grey bodies, different from their own. Ji nan had a pair of tank treads instead of her cyberlegs, and everyone seemed to have most of the functionality of their gear, tho in odd alien analogues. Rusty had a helmet which fed him AR data that seemed to react to the runes on the floor and walls, but it was in a language he couldn’t understand. Ji nan sneaked to the door and assenced the presence of 2 figures which had the same form as the groups new bodies. They spoke of going down to the ceremony below, and walked off. As they did Ji nan felt a powerful pull to follow them. She managed to resist the urge and returned to the group. They decided to go the opposite direction from the voices they heard, and proceeded down the hall until they encountered a large rune on the floor in front of a door to another room. Ji nan assenced that there was no one in the room so they went in. There was a large machine with a glowing flashing rune in front of it, and Ji nan could assence it had mana coursing thru it. The group decided to leave and proceeded down the hall, but soon heard something coming towards them. They ducked back into the room with the mana machine, but that was where the guards they were trying to evade were heading. They seemed to respond to a badge on Ji nan’s body, and she used that to bluff them away, indicating that Rusty was working on the machine. After they left Ji nan approached the machine. She reached out and touched it and instantly her spirit was drawn out of her body and mingled with the machines energy. She felt herself pulled first down into the basement, where she felt many other auras feeding the flow. Then she was whisked up thru the structure and out into space. She reveled at the view into infinity for a brief moment before she was drawn back down and driven back into her alien body. They group then decided to follow the rune path on the floor upstairs.

When they reached the next floor they were confronted with an alien priest who began to address them directly in its foreign language. At a literal loss for words, Greg consulted with his mentor spirit which began channeling the latent consciousness of the alien he was possessing to speak back to the priest. The priest began to lead them back to a door down the hallway that was covered in warning signs in this strange alien runic system. The priest suggested that Farnsworth would be an excellent subject to be put thru the door. Greg deliberated internally, but decided that keeping Farnsworth with them was more valuable than sacrificing him to see what lay beyond. The priest returned to its post while the group proceeded further down the hall.

Coming to the cusp of a new room, the runners decided to reconnoiter to establish what they knew. They discerned that they were possessing the bodies of alien lifeforms, and that if they meditated they could subsume themselves further into their awareness and learn more of their roll. All in the party decided to do this except Ji nan who thought to remain detached enough to avoid getting them lost in an alien world. But thru connecting with their hosts, they learned that they were on Mars, or at least a parallel of Mars on this metaplane. They learned that they were arriving at a momentous time where the Martians were having a peace accord with their ancient enemies, which were from an underwater civilization on Earth. Rusty was in the body of the chief martian technician, Greg was one of the high priests, Ji nan was in the body of the leader of a special investigative task force concerned with mysterious disappearances so close to the peace accord with the earthlings, and Farnsworth was in the body of an archivist. Armed with this knowledge they opened the door to a large hanger. The opposite end of the room was an opening that was fed into space, a gossamer force field sealing the room from the void. Several fighter sized space ships populated the hanger, as well as one larger transport ship. Out of this ship there was a detachment of what the immersed party members recognized as the earthlings and enemies of the martians. They also saw a large terminal that was directing a beam out into space surrounded by priests. The runners approached it.

Ji nan managed to convince the priests that Rusty needed to work on the terminal, but they agreed only so long as they were allowed to supervise. He used the opportunity to learn that the ship with the earthlings had indeed just arrived from some underwater location on Earth, and were here to negotiate terms of an end or abatement of hostilities. He also located the node of one of the smaller fighters and hacked his way onto it. But not being able to exercise too much control he logged off. They left the sprawling hangar and found themselves drawn back to what was behind the large door with the caution signs. Jinan went to the priest they met earlier, who was still in front of the door. After exchanging some harsh words with him, the priest opened the door, revealing a massive tentacled horror. In a flash it leaped at the reeling gawkers. Ji nan dodged to the side and hit the button on the control panel to shut the door. In a furor she turned on the priest. Unfazed, he cast a spell of command and dismissed her. Overpowering her resistance he watched as Ji nan helplessly walked off with the party in tow. They were heading past the room where they first found themselves when they overheard people speaking english in another room. When they went in to investigate they discovered more people from their plane who had taken the drug. Rusty and Greg began addressing the other users, who seemed to be pretty clueless about what was going on, in the coarse alien language, which seemed to shake them up a bit. Then Ji nan stepped in, still speaking english herself, and tried to convince them that the runners were aliens and that were wise to the befuddled users. When they proved to be unreliable sources of info, she urged them to stay in the room and not touch anything. The group then moved on further downstairs.

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Silver Key to a red door painted black

The gang was feeling a bit on edge after their many excursions and incursions, and were looking for some downtime. Rusty decided to do a little Jackpoint research on the new drug he’d heard was hitting Casa Tir known as Silver Key. There wasn’t too much to be found, but he did uncover a few accounts where Jackpointers were able to experience mutual group hallucinations. One constant thread that ran thru the accounts was that all the users seemed to envision themselves being in a large castle they could wander around in. Rusty was intrigued, but wanted some more accredited information. He found out about a professor at the university who had a reputation for, shall we say ‘open-mindedness,’ named Albus Farnsworth and arranged to meet with him at a later date.

In the meantime he thought of a way to earn himself a little extra ¥ by selling info about the Tyrell R&D Arcology. He compiled a file of useful info about the security layout and various matrix access points, carefully omitting some of the more ghoulish particularities, and sold it to an online contact that presented itself tersely and more like a seasoned hacker. He then compiled another file regarding all the evidence they had collected concerning Tyrell’s raid on the Sombra building. Jinan drafted a message to send to a representative of the Corporate Court, thru a lead furnished by Major Thomm, and an arrangement was made to meet with them in a weeks time, when they would be in Casa Tir for the corporate accords discussions. Greg received instructions from Finrod and AWE to try and influence this vote against the corporations in any way possible. He asked Finrod to include Rusty and Jinan in this payday, to which he consented. With this charge Greg set about obtaining a fake magic license and directional laser microphone, intending to try and get a job with security detail for the meeting.

The gang was ready to unwind and try silver key. Rusty talked to Rakeel thru his contacts at the Ancients bike shop and managed to pick up a number of hits of the stuff. Finally the meeting with Farnsworth took place, and after they explained what they knew about the drug he asserted that it permitted users to experience a metaplane, and agreed to “lead” an expedition. They all convened in Greg’s large apartment and prepared to dive in. Rusty, not wanting to be caught anywhere with his pants down, set his drones to watch the building and make sure no threats approached while they were under.

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Rusty's Museum Heist

Rusty did some surveillance and hacking at the Museum of Science and Technology, wanting to prepare to steal the experimental VR simrig on display. He determined the layout of the museum and dispatched custom agents to both the security and maintenance nodes. When the team came back at night the agent on the security node disabled the camera system, while the agent on the maintenance node added Rusty’s drones to the list of approved maintenance drones. The maintenance agent was detected and an alert was triggered. The security spider was awoken in the middle of the night and the TT Peace Forces were called by the automated alert. Greg shrouded the Adventurevan in a darkness spell, and when the Peace Forces arrived he instilled in them boredom and a compulsion to leave the investigation and eat. After a quick search showed nothing amiss, the fuzz left. Rusty and the Spider started by attempting to hack each other’s drones. Rusty decided to hack the museum’s security node while the hacker went to battle the detected agent on the maintenance node. Rusty subverted the museums security system, when the spider attempted to return to the security node he discovered he was no longer welcome. He encountered his own Ixcuiname IC and was not only damaged by overcome by a psychotropic effect. The incident left him with an implanted paranoia towards the matrix. Rusty then had the museum’s maintenance drones disconnect the VR simrig and follow his LEBD back to the van. On his way out he also stole the museum’s security drones. With his shiny new toy, he paid Dr Spaceman to install it in his head and gained the ability to be faster than the competition in matrix space.

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Rakeel Womp Womp

Jinan carried the body to the van, and examined it while Rusty sped away. Seeing that there was headware installed, Jinan tried to access its data, only to have it explode as she triggered an implanted bomb. She called Rakeel to try to find an underground surgeon who could have performed some of the modifications to the victim. At a meet with Rakeel at the Mes ti Maeaerthsa (Path of the Warrior) Bar he seemed quite nervous, but he set up a meeting with his crime surgeon at the Telestrian Biotech facility. Dr Spaceman and Rakeel both seemed suspicious and nervous at the meet. When confronted with what they had done and threatened with guns they confessed. The Ancients had kidnapped the girl, again, a rogue operation of Rakeel’s. Dr Spaceman had performed the modifications. They both promised to drop human trafficking if Jinan would let them go. Rakeel agreed to let the Ancients be used to smuggle people and goods back and forth between Portland and Seattle and he revealed that a prominent politician had hired his services before the girl ended up dead. He knew it was a politicians because he had his charge tailed to the Star Chamber. He agreed to help Jinan further her revenge if he could.

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Greg in Lorfwyr's Mansion

Greg arrived at the late Lorfwyr’s mansion lair in the west hills above Portland, and his attempt to astrally perceive the mansion was blocked. Greg quickly blasted a hole through the magical barrier surrounding the mansion and climbed through. Seeing the hellhounds roaming the yard, no doubt feral by now with their master long dead, Greg tried to stealthily levitate through a window of the mansion. One of the Hellhounds saw him and tried to follow, but he knocked it back with a stunbolt. Assensing the house’s magical security, he snuck away from a spirit of man, and was able to evade a stone golem by levitating above it and pelting it with stunbolts. He also perceived another astral barrier deeper in the house. He came to a table with a candle and a goblet on it. After some trial and error, he lit the candle, wine appeared in the glass, which Greg sipped. Elsewhere in the mansion the magical barrier flickered and disappeared. Greg went and retrieved the jewel from its container. He was able to determine it was connected with a dragonshead mantlepiece, but not how. He was able to achieve a flash of insight: Dunklezahn’s last moment of preparing to be inaugurated as president before being felled by an assassins bullet. Unable to deduce anything further, and not wanting to stick around until further awakened individuals decided the hole in Lorfwyr’s mana barrier was too enticing to pass up, Greg left with his valuable find.

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Jinan in the Awakened Forest

Jinan looked to see if there were any cameras surrounding the Awakened Forest in west Portland. Not seeing any, she entered the park. Her astral perception saw that something was amiss in the forest’s aura, and this quickly proved to be so as deranged tree spirits attacked her. She decided not to fight back, and escaped the tree with gymnastics. The spirit of the forest itself, a green man with antlers appeared and directed Jinan to a clearing. She snuck past some feral dog apes and found the clearing. Meditating in the clearing, she had a vision of a blighted place in the forest. She went to that place and was attacked by another tree spirit. Evading it, she climbed into a cave on a nearby cliff-side. In her cave hiding place Jinan saw a dead body. Jinan meditated and had a vision. A young girl kidnapped from her life in the slums, surgically altered to look like a trid star, and trafficked into a life of prostitution, only to be stabbed in the woods by a rich elf and his Aztlaner companion. Jinan saw the girl’s spirit in her vision, and vowed that she would ensure her fate would not befall anyone else.

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Downtime and Information Gathering

Deciding to stay in Portland for a long term, Jinan obtained a room at the Surehand flophouse and Greg secured long term lodging at the Tesrae ti Cirolletishsa (traveler’s estate) Hotel. Rusty decided that he had all he needed in his workshop and decided to sleep in the van. The team learned of a number of news stories. Hestaby was negotiating a peace in Tir Tairngire’s long struggle with the California Free State. A new street drug had been making inroads in Seattle and Portland called Silver Key. Orichalcum, the astrally active element, was discovered in large amounts on Mars, the UCAS government, the Japanese government, and the Sombra corporation were all calling for more immigrants to Mars to assist the new mining effort. An experimental hotsim VR rig that allowed the user to experience the matrix at superhuman speeds was on display at the museum of science. The Tir Tairngire Star Chamber was to consider signing the corporate accords to improve the nation’s struggling economy and break fully with the Elvish past. Both Greg and Jinan decided to pursue initiation. Greg decided to join AWE, and they asked him to infiltrate Lorfwyr’s abandoned mansion and return with the Jewel of Memory, a large gem containing all of former UCAS President Dunlezahn’s stored memories. Jinan decided to undertake a vision quest in the awakened forest.

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