Dark Web Game

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Referee: Dave

Player: RooK


New Earth has been destroyed by the Trupepol and the First Galaxy is in chaos. Sinnel is a slave owned by a physicist named Goron (Croc Minor) who is trying to find the source of their powers. Goron uses slaves due to the implied confidentiality of them. He runs a business contracting them out. The slaves are treated well.


Either a biological or a robot. The advantage of being a robot is that you would be a pet project of the scientist and have 38 points from the custom being generator. However, there may be drawbacks later on. If a robot, intelligence and will power must both be 6. If a biological, intelligence must be at least 4. A biological would have 30 points to use.

The character will be second stage. First stage is mathematician, second stage is combatant of the character’s choice.

Note: at this point in time, in this reality, the only people who have MBA are the Trupepol. No other biologicals have it innately and no one has figured out how to give it to a custom being.

"Sinnel" = a 100 kg insectizoid, with one of the middle-limbs also having manipulating digits similar to the forward two limbs. Mostly squat and oval, and goodie-goodie in hopeless sort of way. One stage of defender added to the initial stage of mathematician.


4975.2 – New Earth is destroyed. Goron takes it hard as he had colleagues there. He had tried looking into the ‘Mentalist Question’ before, but now it becomes an all-consuming obsession. While most scientists are looking at it from a biological point of view, Goron starts looking at the physics of the power. As he’s an 8th stage physicist that makes sense.

4975.4 – Sinnel finishes his stage of mathematician. Goron puts him to work with all his other scientist slaves on a contracting out basis.

4976.5 - Goron secludes himself for three weeks. When he emerges, he drastically increases security and starts behaving very erratically. At one point he gets every slave he owns into a courtyard and looks them over one by one, just staring at them. The general worry amongst the slaves is that his obsession with the Trupepol has driven him insane.

4976.8 – Goron announces that he’s selling all the slaves and retiring. Sinnel is sold to a government on New Bronx.

Jordanoleiopus Fuscosignatipennis

The name of the stack you are on is annoyingly long and most people just call it Jordan. It’s a democracy with two main parties: Security and Liberty. Security is currently in power as everyone’s still freaked out over recent events. Elections happen every two years, with the last one being 5 months after New Earth was destroyed.

As an odd quirk of reality, most of the bartenders in Jordan are beetle-like Insectizoids.

Sinnel is owned by the Security party and is used in surveillance. As there is no way to detect Trupepol, Jordan relies on legions of mathematicians reviewing surveillance of its territory to try and predict who may be a mentalist. Your job it to identify people with certain idiosyncrasies based on what your superiors ask for and to relay that information to higher stage mathematicians to analyze further. There's also been a large decryption project you've been working on since you got here, though you only ever see small slices of it, so it's unknown was it's for.

You are on a six day shift. Until now the schedule has been 2 days of work, 2 days of training, and 2 days of rest. On your rest days you are allowed a precious commodity here – privacy. You are assigned a small apartment where you can be alone if you want.

You have just finished your training: 1 combat occupation – partially trained stats. Now your schedule is 2 days of work, 2 days of rest, and 2 days where they kick you out to mingle with the citizens. They figure if you’re actually among the people, you’d be more likely to notice when something is off. They sometimes lose slaves to bar fights, but they figure it’s an acceptable loss. Plus, if they get better combatants out of the deal, bonus.

Dark Web Code Blocks

  • Alpha Block - 5 days to translate
    • 2 sub blocks - 3 days each
  • Beta Block - 10 days to translate
    • 5 sub blocks - 3 days each
    • 4 sub blocks - 4 days each
    • 3 sub blocks - 5 days each
    • 3 sub blocks - 6 days each
    • 5 sub blocks - 10 days each

2015-07-02 - Bounty Hunted

Recently graduated from his Defender training, Sinnel went out into the 'real world' for the first time. Tradition dictates that one must visit a bar in this situation, so that's where it headed. Unfortunately, there was a lone human looking for it and spotted it almost immediately. However, the human didn't have a visual, only a vague description and a name, so she had to find out if Sinnel was the one she was after. She attempted to chat, feigning being lost, and Sinnel gave up its name right away. Sinnel itself was suspicious of the woman being Trupepol due to not being able to access a map. But that was just a ruse.

The human suddenly attacked, and missed. More banter. Another attack. More banter. Another attack. Sinnel finally figured out that the human was using her chatty ways to hide building up an assassination attempt, so it started to fight back. In the remaining combat, both were driven down to low stamina and the woman decided to withdraw. Sinnel went to hide and heal.

During the healing, he noticed others apparently looking for him. Eventually, one of them, an Anurian got lucky and spotted him. More mindless conversation as the Anurian tried to confirm his target, and then fighting. The dice were really not with this Anurian and he was brought down fairly quickly. After some mild interrogation, Sinnel found out these were bounty hunters.

To the bar! Sipping some nectar, Sinnel noticed a Groten enter that appeared to be looking for it before. Feeling brave, it contacted the Groten and asked if he was looking for it. The Groten seemed quite relieved and joined Sinnel for a drink. Apparently the Groten wasn't after the bounty, but was looking for Sinnel to deliver a package. They left the bar shortly to find somewhere more secluded. However, the bounty hunters were hidden outside waiting for Sinnel to exit the bar.

The Groten decided to try and kill or at least scare the hunters by charging them for melee combat. He was assassinated for his trouble. Sinnel was able to patch him as he woke up and they managed to escape. The Groten was somewhat less patient now, so brought out a computer to communicate with Sinnel. It was apparently from Goron and it instructed Sinnel to run a program in his internal computer.

  • Program ran giving Sinnel access to another network - seems to be all machine code of some sort.
  • Within the network, there are chunks of code that Goron has instructed Sinnel to decrypt and translate. Goron provided a key to get started.
  • Sinnel was given another block of code to run if he ever gets in serious trouble. But he warned it might cause a lot more problems than it solves. We shall call it "The-Code-That-Shall-Not-Be-Run".

The message contained a lot of paranoid ranting from Goron. He claimed that the Trupepol were after him. He also claimed that they might be after Sinnel too.

Sinnel hid for the rest of his 'free' days and made it back to work.

Plot Infliction 001 - Back on the job

At some point during your two days of work, an AI wakes up within you.

"Gaaaah! Ok, your boss may be a epic physicist, but his programming sucks. I had to redesign half my algorithms just so I could get to the point of speaking with you. Sorry. I was installed as part of the message Goron sent you. I was meant to be an AI helper that would answer questions about all this, but since he was a loon when he wrote it, I'm not sure how much help I'll be. The bastard was so paranoid, he changed his mind a bunch of times as to what to include in my memory. I'm afraid there isn't much. But I'll do my best. Feel free to tell me to go delete myself."

Sinnel hopefully immediately started work on the Alpha Block, but keeps TCTSNBR tantalizingly handy. Unless there is some drastic tactical detriment to the processing which makes utilization of the remaining 2 days delaying that.

When the AI manifests inside Sinnel's own mind, she fights down the fundamental initial panic. Then thinks at it: "Hello. What are your parameters, capabilities, and limitations?"

Yup, you get a day and a half worth of decrypting done on Alpha Block. While not understanding what it does, you can tell that it is very refined code. Someone put a lot of effort into making it as efficient as possible. I'm guessing you at least looked at the Beta Blocks - vastly different programming style. A lot more ad hoc type stuff and inefficiencies. High probability it was written by a different person/people, and by someone who didn't have as much an intrinsic understanding of the network. You also note that the network is fluid. The code you're decrypting is kind of like a giant whale drifting through the ocean. If you were to look here a few months from now, you wouldn't find anything except the background machine code.

You also notice that in addition to the 20 beta sub blocks, there's dozens of other partially completed blocks. It's likely they don't do anything, but it gives the whole beta section a feel of 'work in progress'.

AI: "Well, aren't we all mathy. I was originally intended to tell you about Goron's work, but he got too paranoid for that in case I was intercepted before getting to you. I have copies of the bill of sale for three of his other slaves, but I'm not sure what good that will be. And I think I was meant to try and help you survive. Goron said you were, and I quote, 'a naïve goody-goody'. If you're going to survive, you need to drop the whole lawful crap. Trust no-one. Tell no-one about any of this. The Trupepol have their influence everywhere and I think the whole technophobe thing is complete bull shit."

"As for capabilities - I got squat. I can be an annoying voice in your head, but that's about it. I can't earn experience on my own. At the moment, I don't have access to any of your sensors or systems because of the crappy job Goron did in designing me, but if you'll let me I can work on that myself. If you are able to one day, I can move over to a separate computer brain and then be able to earn experience, but I'm not programmed with any desire to do so."

"While the recommendation to alter the 'lawful' aspect is understandable from a paranoid point of view, reality has seen it fit to create me as a slave. The slavamization process is intrinsically rules-bound, and I think that if I fundamentally align myself with a rules-oriented modality it will cause less limitations for my capacities. The 'good' aspect is the one that is more likely to erode, as I think the original urge to be considered valuable for who we are gets blunted when one is casually traded. But we'll see."

"Question: do you consume processing resources that affect my computational performance? Meaning, if I delete you, will I be able to more-rapidly run the decryption functions?"

Sinnel will then run a systems resource query to validate whatever answer the AI might give.

"Pending review of your value, your designation will be HAL." Sinnel grants HAL read-only access to standard sensors, but not comms. "Should you conceive of some value you might have while I review, feel free to let me know."

Sinnel then starts reviewing the mystery network for any possible bulletin boards, wikis, or other forms of secure communication.

HAL: "I doubt it, but I really don't know. You'd be better equipped to figure that out than me. Let's see... I'll shut down for a minute and you see if it makes a difference. Ready? Go." He's silent for a minute. "Well?" You noticed an infinitesimal freeing up of your nanoscopic activity while he was out, but it wouldn't make a difference to your brain. But it did help to confirm that he's actually there, and not some mentalist talking to you.

Unfortunately, you're in work mode, and the slave juice prevents any working on side projects while you're working. So as soon as you start reviewing the mystery network, your mind gets an internal slap from your neural nanny and you get back to work. What you did manage to see of the network wasn't very helpful - it's vast and there isn't anything immediately recognizable.

Stay focussed during work - right.

There's a potential use for HAL right there. I give him read access to my on-board copies of local maps and tell him to look for a less-stupid locale for personal training.

Sinnel then takes some motivational sips of Mountain Dew Nectar™ and redoubles efforts on the whateverthefuckitis I'm working on.

HAL: "On it."

You continue work on your assigned tasks for the rest of the two days. Then you're released to your apartment for two rest days. There's a message from your supervisor when you get there... let's say your immediate supervisor is a Felinid named Morris.

Morris: "I saw your message about having a bounty. Sometimes more fringe elements of the Liberty party do crowd funding to take out a bounty against one of our personnel. They pick a specific person so as to make it seem it's not a random attack against our party - they're not too bright if they think that works. We had a computer breech a couple of weeks ago and your contact information was part of the data accessed, so it's likely they got your name that way."

"I reviewed security footage of you initial contact with the woman. She's part of a group of four beings that work together - you probably encountered them all. Kudos for surviving a four on one hunt. They probably got assigned the bounty from this person." You get a visual of a Croc Minor. "His name is Vox. His last known whereabouts were a biotech shop." He gives you coordinates. "The four hunters seem to be waiting in the vicinity for your next free days. I've given you access to surveillance data around this facility so you can track them."

Surveillance data includes hidden cameras and sensor feeds from scout slaves wandering about.

Niiiice. Hidden cameras and wandering scout sensor feeds are delicious inputs for a mathematician. While Sinnel spends most processing time running the decryption, she also compiles predictive profiles for the bounty hunters and the Croc Minor - especially if there's access to archive data. If the opportunity arises, the plan will be to sneak out through a safe¹ hole in their probable surveillance net sometime to head to a bar of HAL's suggestion to also work on Sinnel's blaster-handling.

Sinnel sends a 'thank you' to Morris², and a follow-up question about if there's any other novice members of Security™ Party property that are getting picked on who might want to join forces³.

Oh, and now would be the time to start poking around the Dark Web for any social media or shared resources.

¹ "Safe" being a crude description of a 93+% probability projection for successful avoidance of detection entirely by the Vox, the four bounty hunters, and any sub-professional associates they might have access to. Not any foolish hopes that there are any playable corners of the Dave-verse free from risk.
² Funny.
³ META MESSAGE: "Sinnel is a team player!"

HAL mentions two possible locations for training. One is a combination bar, shooting range, combat arena. A lot of newbies go there to try and continue their training. The catch is that you'll be expected to participate in occasional raids on similar Liberty facilities. Another is a bar where you have to check your weapons at the door, but are provided equivalent stun weaponry. Lot's of 'training' goes on there.

You get a feel for the hunter's movements and are able to determine a spot to exit the facility undetected. They do occasionally check the two potential training places. You won't have access to the surveillance while you're out in the wild.

2 more days of decryption accomplished. You attempt to look around the Dark Web for anything, but don't have any luck. It would be kind of like only having access to the hexadecimal packets of the Internet, where the Internet is a few orders of magnitude larger, written in Swahili, and you're trying to find Facebook.

You don't get any reply from Morris.

"Out in the wild". That's a fun notion to consider how standard AIF society functions, especially in places like New Bronx.

Sinnel determines the probability that the bounty hunters are coordinated in their movements. If the probability is >50%, she will hide with a line of sight to the entrance of the "stun" training bar and wait for one of the bounty hunters to check it out. The idea being that the team won't feel the need to re-check it for a while, so Sinnel will head in for some stunning action! </pun>

Otherwise, before venturing forth, Sinnel will try to ascertain probable candidates for other Security Party noobs to rendezvous with and propose coordinated survival.

Yes, it's likely they are coordinating their movements. It's the Anurian you see check the place out and he's not one of the more aware individuals. You stay hidden and after a few minutes inside the bar, he emerges and leaves. You probably have a few hours before the place is checked again.

The bar is a somewhat jovial place. Everyone seems to be relishing in the camaraderie of how pathetic everyone is. Many seem to be allowing themselves to get drunk. You do recognize a couple people that were with you in your defender training - they graduated a few weeks before you. There may be others, but you remember these two because they were the only other Insectizoids in your class. They spot you as you come in, look at each other, and then yell "Bonzai!" and attack you. It's an amusing battle due to none of you having hit bonuses, and all having relatively good stamina. They probably wear you down, but regardless, after the battle you all share some frothy nectar while waiting for the stunning effects to wear off.

They're names are Tiltelm and Xunkira.

HAL: "Remember. Trust no one. Friends are a weakness. The Trupepol can use them to get to you."

To HAL: "That greatly confirms that your creator was indeed Goron The Paranoid. While I intend to be parsimonious with personal details, the potential benefit of having socially-aligned cooperatives outweighs the risks associated. Don't make me reprogram you with alcohol poisoning."

When time is about two standard deviations before the likely next visitation to the establishment, Sinnel will excuse herself and leave to watch for the next sweep. If that goes as expected, Sinnel will return to the stunningly amusing training.

All while grinding decryption, obviously.

It's fairly easy to avoid the hunters at the moment. Their movements are very predictable. It appears they give up on the middle of the second day, though you'd have to check surveillance records when you get back to your apartment to find out what happened to them.

Hanging out with Tiltelm and Xunkira is somewhat amusing. They like to drink, and aren't very bright. Tiltelm is a slave like you, but Xunkira is a citizen. On their work days, their job is to accompany technicians on their rounds - mostly fixing surveillance gear. They seem impressed you're a scientist. Most Insectizoids aren't that smart and don't study the sciences.

While stun battling, listening to your fellow bugs, and watching the door, the decryption can't be focused on entirely, but I'd say you could do it at half speed. So, if you spend your entire free days at the bar, you can decrypt a days worth. That will get your total up to 4.5 days. Or, if you wanted to speed things up, you can just go find a hole to hide in and focus.

The desire to decrypt at least part of the α-block supersedes the stunning training, so the entire second day would be spent holed up focussing the decryption effort.

You find a secluded maintenance tunnel to hide in. There's the occasional Vimren around, but no one disturbs you. You finish the decryption and it coalesces into a program that runs automatically. It takes a few minutes, and you can feel it altering you in some incomprehensible way. When it finishes, the results are a bit anticlimactic. You have a heads up display superimposed on your vision. Looks like there are a couple settable options, some information floating near the few Vimren in the area, and one line of text in the middle. Problem is - it's in a language you don't recognize.

However a moment later another line of text appears with a progress bar that slowly starts increasing. The text slowly changes to "Translation Matrix Initializing" and when it's done, everything is readable.

There are two Vimren nearby that have little floating lines of text. The first one says "Chaotic Neutral / 12 / 0" and the second says "Chaotic Neutral / 1 / 0". You have two settings that look changeable "Pain Threshold" and "Consciousness Threshold". And the line of text in the middle says: "Coercion system detected. Do you want to override?"

Yeah, now I officially feel foolish for not going with the 38-point robot character.

Let's just override the 'coercion system', and Sinnel writes up a 'coercion system simulator' to help keep up appearances as needs be.

The plan is to return to work as usual, and resume the regular productivity for another 2-day shift. The hope is that Sinnel can practice using the new subroutines in the mundane environment of the workplace. And perhaps dream up with some way to buy herself out of slavery. Maybe.

Personal priorities for Sinnel:

  1. Earn (a couple stages of) Aggressor
  2. Decrypt more blocks to derive more powers
  3. Find any kind of systematic classification of the various blocks to be able to prioritize
  4. Establish contacts/allies on the Dark Web
  5. Not die

As you head back to work, you notice one more thing. While most beings have their nature in the little heads up display, occasionally you see someone with a 30 digit alphanumeric code.

Work goes by uneventfully. You can sense that the slave juice is still active, but you are now able to ignore it. The pain setting allows you to turn off feeling any pain, though it's probably not recommended to turn it completely off. Pain does provide useful information in combat, and you want your reactions to seem real. At least until you get some more will power and are able to fake it better. Same with the consciousness setting - looks like you can set it so that you're automatically awake up to -ve half your stamina.

At work, most everyone has their nature in the heads up display, but you do spot a few people with the 30 digit code.

Confirmed: activate the 'maintain consciousness' function.

1.2x1036 is an awful lot of index permutations, so I'm going to assume that either there's a lot of precision in some aspects of the code, or that much of the descriptive power of the code is discarded for purposes simplified place-keeping formulation. Regardless, Sinnel makes a note to herself to quickly run a correlation across the profiles of the people with the big-ass-codes in the HUD - after work.

There is a temptation to run some calculations or decryption during work hours, but considering that the results are being fed to higher-level mathematicians I don't want to reveal too early/conclusively that Sinnel has changed.

HAL: "HAL, do you have any insights about these HUD references?"

Additional query: can Sinnel requisition further supplies? Mostly patches, obviously.
Hmmm... which makes me wonder if Sinnel encounters Morris during the course of his work period.

HAL: "What HUD references? By the way - BORED! Why the hell would Goron make me able to feel bored? That's just cruel. Can you give me access to the planetary network? Maybe I can find something to entertain myself while you're working."

No sign of Morris - though you've never actually seen him before, just read a brief profile and talked via the comm. You can request up to 10 more patches before they do something called a 'Free Day Review' where they download your memories of all your free days to see why you've been so busy.

Sinnel updates HAL's read access to include the HUD display. "HAL, please show me the administrative controls of your personality parameters."

Let's just request 9 patches before Time Off, to give the 'Free Day Review' injunction a slight safety margin.

It seems like anything to do with the Dark Web can't be shared, and as HAL is a separate entity, he's out of luck. "Administrative controls? Are you serious? Do you think with the crappy job Goron did of programming me, he would include 'administrative controls'? Let's get back to this HUD thing you were talking about. Did you manage to decrypt one of those code blocks? I think that Goron was able to run one of the ones he sent you, and I think it drove him even more insane, so be careful. Yeah... I'm starting to remember a bit. He decrypted the smaller of the two he sent you. None of the sub blocks though. Yeah, he ran it, seemed to go catatonic for a few hours, and then got all his slaves in a room to stare at. Weird."

"And I'm suppose to warn you about something... Damn, can't remember. I'll keep trying to repair myself."

Oh, and one thing I failed to mention. While you were decrypting the Alpha Block, you found the key hidden in there that Goron sent you to get started. So you would have been able to do this on your own had you known where to look for the block itself.

Also, during your work days, Sinnel gets the faintest of a Bad Feeling™ in her subconscious.

At the end of the work days you get your requisitioned 9 patches and end up at your apartment. A scan of the surveillance shows that the four hunters seem to be mostly hanging out at a bar, though they occasionally emerge and go looking for someone. Looks like they are pursuing grudge bounties. The grudge bounties in this area rarely call for someone's death. Mostly grievous bodily harm that they have to waste time healing.

So, you've got two days of decrypting. What are you going to work on?

Instead of imagining ways to try to subvert the underlying intent of the un-sharable content of the Dark Web, let's hope it applies very broadly in reality and move on to the first α-sub-block.

Please refresh my photographic memory about the "key" Goron referenced.

HAL: "While you're trying to remember what you're supposed to warn me about, can you conjecture about the nature of the information Dark Web. I thought Goron was trying to derive the fundamental physical workings of certain aspects of reality, but this seems to be existing encrypted information that Goron... found?"

Yeah, there was a decryption key Goron sent along with the data. I think I mentioned it on game night. (Maybe?) :)

HAL: "He was working on that Trupepol prisoner he had. Wait, the slaves didn't know about that. He had a Trupepol prisoner, on loan from the Confederation. Very sedated. Maybe the Dark Web was a side project? Or maybe he was able to duplicate some kind of clairvoyant ability and that let him find it? Though I really don't know. That information was not included in my memory. But you're right. He was working on the mentalist, and found the Dark Web instead. And I remember what I was suppose to warn you about - there's lots of other data blocks out there in the Dark Web that could be decrypted. You could probably find some if you spent enough time looking. Don't. He's fairly sure the ones you're working on are safe, but there are a lot of booby traps out there."

2015-07-10 - Bug Trio Kicks Ass

Well, not so much kicking ass as not dying from random encounters in Sinnel's case. Her two compatriots discovered the distinct value of using hand-to-hand when large and strong.

  • Encountered an evil Takolee medic who was scared off.
  • On way to Stun Bar - followed and attacked by a Croc Major. Fought to a stalemate.
  • Hide and heal.
  • At Stun Bar - Croc Major again - but this time H2H was employed effectively. Croc Major was ripped apart.
  • Healing / bought more gear. HUD found to be Nature / Stamina / Money.
  • Equidon bounty hunter attacked, and drawn in to H2H range. Was brought down but left alive to extort money.
  • More healing / bought more gear.

Plot Infliction 002 - Mistaken Identity

A vid of the three of you ripping the head off of the Croc Major is making the rounds, so random encounters will be at a minimum for the remainder of your free days. At least until higher stage guys starting wandering in looking for a challenge. Tiltelm and Xunkira want to go back to the Stun Bar to revel in their glory.

Spending some more time at the Stun Bar sounds like a perfect way to help hone our developing skills, and a good way to blow off steam. However, I do worry that their hand-to-hand capabilities might not translate well to the virtual damage realm.

The other day is spent busily decrypting.

Yeah, they don't do much fighting at first, but then out of boredom use the stun pistols again. A few hours after you get there, Tiltelm pauses for a moment while he receives some communication.

"I've been instructed to go up in Defender again when I earn my next stage. I guess I need to get shot a bunch more..." He starts drinking heavily. A short time later, his money count goes to 0. You recall that when you were first sold to the Security party, your money chip was configured to be a joint account between you and your owners. Tiltelm hasn't noticed his new financial position yet.

Whups. Sinnel creates a new, independent account, and transfers all money there.

Has Tiltelm indicated who his owner/s is/are? "Have you been told why your next stage should be Defender?"

New account: check. Just FYI, one of your slave commands was to not do that. Easy to override now.

Tiltelm is owned by the Security party, same as you. He's just in a different division. He has muttered in the past that his supervisor is a jerk.

Tiltelm is busy drinking, but Xunkira mutters: "When we first started, we were fitted for saddles. I'll probably be receiving similar instructions, though I technically could refuse. I'd just lose my job.

Sinnel's internal justification for having a separate account is that the original purpose of the single shared account is to prevent theft of money temporarily held by the slave, and that since Sinnel will never steal any money she is entrusted with it becomes irrelevant.

"Steeds?!?! Uh, that's simultaneously awesome and moderately lame. Seems like kind of a waste, considering that you guys aren't all that fast. Do you guys work for the same section? Maybe I could try to reason with your supervisors for alternate assignments."

Tiltelm stares at you like you grew a second head. Xunkira says: "You think? That would be cool." He sends you the comm. number of his supervisor.

Time passes. At around the middle of the second day, the bar gets a bit quieter and you notice that people are looking at you three a lot more. Eventually, one of you checks the net and your battle with the Croc Major has a significant annotation:

Equidon voice: "Ok, I admit I'm an asshole who kills people for money. But I'm not degenerate enough to stay quiet about this. I think you all should be wary of the Insectizoids in this vid. The small one had a grudge bounty and I was hunting him. I didn't realize he had the two friends, and like the Croc Major, I was led into a trap and brought down. Sucks to be me, but they let me live and when I woke up, here's what happened."

Then follows video/audio of the entire conversation between you and him where you extorted his money.

He continues: "The thing is, he knew how much money I had. Sure, he was five credits off, but still. He claimed it was some mathematician mojo, but I'm not buying it. It was like he was reading my mind. Now I know we've been told that the Trupepol were all Humans, but what if they're not? Maybe they're sharing their power with people here to do their dirty work for them. Anyway, I don't know what was going on, but it was damn creepy."

Of course with any video like this, lots of technicians and mathematicians pour over it to try and determine if it's fake. The general consensus on the net is that it's genuine. Which of course, you know it is.

A very short time later Morris calls you. "Come back to base immediately. Meet me in conference room 19."

Player-characters make pretty shitty slaves.
Here's a tough calculation: what is the probability that Sinnel is screwed if she heads back to base?

At the very least, it is time to change locations and hide. Sinnel exchanges comms information with Tiltelm and Xunkira, and heads off somewhere quiet with lots of hide bonuses. And avoiding too much exposure, obviously - as best as a green character can, anyway.

You conclude that there's only a 4% probability your superiors think you'd be a Trupepol operative. This is based on the many hours of watching surveillance video and what things they ask you to look for. An enemy agent letting his cover be blown by a simple extortion is a low probability event. However, they're obviously bringing you in due to this event. 70% chance it's just routine - they'll make sure the slave juice is holding and ask some questions. You'll definitely be asked about how you came up with the credit amount. 30% chance they'll do a sensor dump and examine what you've been up to. 2% chance they'll err on the side of caution and keep you on base for an extended period.

However, not heading back to base opens up a whole bunch of uglier probabilities. Especially since there's a soldier waiting for you as you exit the bar. It's a Human; he smiles and says: "Hello Sinnel. Morris asked me to escort you back to base." He's got a hover platform and gestures for you to hop on. His HUD is "Lawful Neutral / 65 / 564". He's got a rifle, some armour and an energy shield.

"Well, that simplifies things." Sinnel boards the hover platform in the most efficient manner and hunkers down with grip-enhanced feet. And idly calculates the probability of whether the soldier is a slave. And the probability that they will determine the bypassed slave juice - with conjecture as to what they'll do if so.

One of the quandaries that Sinnel has a hard time reconciling is a sense that her owners are neither lawful nor good, and freed from the choice-limiting effects of slave juice she finds herself fundamentally inclined to destroy things that are chaotic evil. But how to classify an organization with such considerations?

[internally]: "HAL, do you have a nature? On the good/evil and lawful/chaotic axes, I mean?"

HAL: "I don't know. I don't think I've been alive long enough to really coalesce into a nature. I don't think I would consider myself lawful though."

The soldier takes you back to base. You're led to an armory where he liberates you of your gear, and then takes you to conference room 19. Inside are three people:

  • Felinid (Morris): Chaotic Good / 30 / 2400
  • Human: 30 Digit Code / 6 / 0
  • Reglactin: Chaotic Evil / 50 / 0 (Many force blades)

Morris: "Hello Sinnel. Please sit." There's an examination chair with all sorts of freaky looking instruments. You estimate a 3% chance you're going to die in that chair, though you recognize you may be projecting some fear into those calculations.

After you sit, the Human comes over and starts working on you, scanning you, asking you to perform actions while scanning you - sometimes you are told to resist the slave juice to see how you react. I assume you play along as best you can.

After about an hour, the Human nods to Morris and shuts down all the gear, then goes to a nearby chair to sit and watch. It's down to about 2% you're going to die in the chair.

Morris: "All righty then. Step 1 of interrogation complete - confirmation of conditioning. Technician confirms that all is functioning well. Now to the questioning. Let's start with the easy ones first shall we. Obviously you are ordered to answer truthfully and to the best of your ability."

"Are you a Trupepol?"
"Are you a Trupepol Operative?"
"Have you ever felt or suspected your mind has been altered by a mentalist?"

"Negative to all three questions. To the best of my ability, I have doubts that a Trupepol would be willing to have much insight into my machine-like mind, much less be able to make alterations that were not glaringly obvious."

Outside of Sinnel's consciousness, a theory is forming that the 30-digit code is a resource identifier - for player/character entanglement.

Morris: "'Yes' or 'No' would have been fine. However the next question requires some detail. How did you derive the approximate amount of that bounty hunter's credit total? (Tough question - die in chair probability now 15%)

The Reglactin is looking at you uncertainly - as if he is wondering how best to hack through your carapace.

"I didn't derive anything. It was part of the bluff, along with the fact that I would not actually kill a defenseless person."

Sinnel makes no effort to hide her considerable fear of the Reglactin.

Pregnant pause. Die In Chair goes up to 30%. Reglactin looks hungry.

Morris: "So you're saying that it was a guess. Interesting." Another pause. "I think you're the first person I've encountered where it would be considered lucky that you're a slave. If I wasn't so sure that you had no choice but to tell the truth... Well, there'd be a lot more dissecting involved."

Die in chair goes back down to 2%.

Morris continues, looking annoyed: "I would like to point out, that you were not killing a defenseless person. You were killing a heavily armed attacker who was trying to kill you. And instead of putting him down, you let him go to try and kill you again. And not only that, because of the whole extortion thing, you made yourself look like a common thief. We're going to have to put a notice on the net saying that you are a Security Party asset and not a Trupepol agent, so that makes us look like common thieves as well. Because of all the surveillance we require to make us safe from actual Trupepol agents, we don't have a friendly reputation and you just threw some fuel on the fire."

"So the next time someone attacks you with lethal intent, I highly recommend you finish them off." Morris was careful there not to make it an order.

"As punishment for this incident, I'm transferring you to waste reclamation for a week, starting immediately." The Reglactin looks disappointed.

"One more question. I was checking your financials. You extorted the money, split it amongst your friends, bought some gear, and then yesterday the total suddenly went to zero. What did you do with it?"

Die in chair probability starts creeping back up.

"When I realized that I probably wasn't going to be able to keep the money anyway, I dumped it from the account."

"The suggestion to simplify situations by justifiably finishing off those who demonstrate lethal intent would be much easier to comply with if I - and my colleagues - were not quite so poorly equipped. The desperation for resources causes emotions and blurs the math."

Then, in Sinnel's best dung beetle impersonation: "So, what task shall I be performing for waste reclamation?"

"That sounds petty. Why would you think you wouldn't be able to keep the ... Wait, let me guess, Tiltelm's money was removed. Yeah, his supervisor is kind of an ass. Don't worry. Unless there's some extreme circumstances involved your money is your own."

On a scale of 2 to 12, your dung beetle impersonation is a ... 3. The Reglactin really wants to perforate you.

Morris: "Ha, I have no idea what they do down there. The soldier you came in with will escort you down. We're done here."

The soldier comes back in and you're escorted out of the room. He leads you back to the armory where you get your stuff back. And then through a series of tubes, busses, and elevators you find yourself near the bottom of the stack. The labour is something that could easily be automated, but they've obviously kept some manual tasks for the purpose of prison work. The entire area is saturated in a very unpleasant smell, and the work is mind-numbingly boring. Lift this, move that, etc, etc.

The level of specificity that Morris has regarding Sinnel's interactions is... considerable. That bears remembering.

HAL: "Ready to luxuriate in some full-body control? Because you get to rock and/or roll this shitty work while I run some more decryption." How many days worth does Sinnel get?

HAL: "Awesome! You really need to make it so I can earn experience. Can you imagine if I could apply patches with your third arm if I had a stage or two of medic?"

It takes about a half day to get HAL up and running with your body to the point where you don't have to pay attention and can concentrate on the decrypting. That means 6.5 days of happy decrypting. You're 2.5 done of one of the alpha sub blocks, so I'll assume you finish that one first. When it runs, at first it seems to do nothing. Then a little status message comes up that says 'Searching...' and is stuck there. You've got 6 days of decryption left during your 'punishment'. You could do the other alpha sub block, or get a goodly chunck of the beta block done. What's it going to be?

For the sake of maintaining experimental clarity, I'd rather figure out what the first α-sub block does before decrypting another. And it might be less likely to have this kind of chuck of time for flat-out calculations again, so let's get a healthy start on that β-block.

HAL: "I thought that you were programmed not to even want to gain skill, and that you would need to be installed in a separate brain in order to do so anyway. Has either of those parameters changed?"

What is the security of the waste reclamation section? If Sinnel were to volunteer here, how safe would she be? Are there other overtly safe areas for Sinnel to hide in?

ASIDE: It is surprisingly difficult to remember to refer to Sinnel as female. The unconscious urge to default to a male character is pervasive.

HAL: "I was programmed not to want to earn experience, and that's still the case, but I've also been programmed to help you, so I think the two balance each other out. And you're right, it would take some major modifications to get a separate brain in here. Wishful thinking on my part."

Security is pretty lax down here, but mostly because no one wants to be here. You see lots of Vimren and other lower beings, plus other slaves on punishment duty. Every once in a while you catch a glimpse of someone way more sneaker than you lurking about, so there are others around - probably hiding where no-one would think to look. During your 7 day stretch, you'll occasionally hear the sounds of brief intense combat in the area, and that's when you find out one of your duties is body disposal. Usually by the time you get to a corpse, it's stripped of gear and has been partially eaten by Vimren.

Three days go by uneventfully, and then the 'Searching...' message disappears. In it's place is a folder containing 20 communication addresses, plus a sort of virtual communicator that's separate from your regular communicator.

20 Addresses? Do they have any metadata?

Sinnel contemplates a "Hello world." post.

No, nothing that helpful. No metadata.

OK then, Sinnel posts 20 Dark-text messages.
Address(x): "Hello, my name is ladybug(x). Who are you? And can you tell me anything relating to this system?"

Then proceeds to become unreasonably paranoid.

Addr 11: "Cute Tom. Are you channeling your inner insect today?"

Addr 3: "Feeling bored are we?"

Addr 19: "Hey! Don't go messing with my comms again. Is this Ben?"

Addr 13: "And my name is Groundhog(y). The system is insane... insane!!!"

Addr 2: "Screw off."

Clarification: Address 13 was meant to have been told that Sinnel's designation was "ladybug 13". But whatever.

Address 11: "Sorry, I'm new to this system. Do we have to be spatially proximal to communicate? Is that why the decrypted sub-block said 'searching'?"

Address 3: "Not bored, just exploring this newly-decrypted system. Do we have to be spatially proximal to communicate? Is that why the decrypted sub-block said 'searching'?"

Address 19: "Apologies for disturbing you, I am unfamiliar with this system. Do we have to be spatially proximal to communicate? Is that why the decrypted sub-block said 'searching'?"

Address 13: "What else is insane about this system?"

Address 2: "OK - sorry."

Addr 11: "What?"

Addr 19: "Decrypted? Ok, seriously. This is not funny. The last time one of you morons messed with the comm system, I was cleaning out your sloppy code for hours. And look at that, you managed to hide which phone you're calling from. FYI: Waking up the captain now... Sucks to be you. And I will find out who this is.

Addr 13: "No, wait. I am Gozer the Gozarian! Are you a God?"

Addr 20: "Who is this?"

This could get easy to lose track of.

Address 11: "Is my signal garbled? Or are my questions confusing in some way?"

Address 19: "Could you clarify what a 'phone' is? What is your captain in command of?"

Address 13: "Gozer the Gozerian... good evening. As a duly designated representative of the City, County and State Planet of New York Bronx, I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension.

Address 20: "I can be meaningfully identified as ladybug20. Who are you?"

Nothing for a few minutes... and then address 20 becomes voice. Female, sounds either Human or Reglactin.

"Vanessa. Captain of CS4973. As you are no doubt aware, hacking into a private network is a felony offence. However, if you'd be willing to disclose how you got in, I'm sure the judges will be lenient. Did someone within command give you access codes? Wait a minute."

"Ok, my comm officer says that there's no external signal coming into the ship. All our sleepers are accounted for - at least according to the computer. I'd really like to not have to check on everyone. Could you explain who you are and how you're doing this?"

Somehow, you know that if you speak back and focus on the virtual communicator your voice will be transmitted along the same comm line.

I'm assuming that this Vanessa person is speaking Common. Sinnel makes sure to accentuate the natural clicky-ness of her insectizoid pronunciation.
Address 20: "Hello Vanessa. Based on your reference to a ship, I conclude that you are extremely distant from my physical location - at least by measure of local space-time, if indeed we even have that in common. Can you verify what galaxy and year you are in? This information network might not be completely abiding by usual spatial-temporal-quantum limitations. Please do 'check on everyone', so that we can move past your immediate hypothesis about localized hacking and get into data to help me characterize this information network's capabilities."

Address 13: "Gozer, you appear to be the only entity I can currently contact on this system who seems to possibly grasp the mind-bending ramifications. Can you tell me what you've learned about this system?"

Yes, she is speaking common.

Vanessa: "It's 4976 and we're in the Milky Way. Assuming for the moment that you're not aboard ship, where are you? That's what has us confused. If you were calling from outside the ship, our external communicator would have grabbed it and put it through to control. But you seem to have initially sent text messages to all of us on our internal, heavily firewalled, network. That implies you're here somewhere, or you hacked in. So, if you're not here, where are you? What are your intentions."

Address 13 (text): "Um, just kiddn' on the Gozer thing. Thought you were Ben. Capt' ordered us not to talk to you any more."

Address 19 (text): "Tell Ben he's dead meat."

Ben (Address 4) (text): "Ok, everyone is glaring at me. Which, if you think about it, is all sorts of funny. They think I'm somehow responsible for you. Vicky thinks you're an AI I programmed into the system. My name's Ben by the way. What should I call you, or do you really want me to call you Ladybug? Can I call you Ghost? That seems appropriate somehow. So my bet is that you're on a different colony ship. You know the system on your ship, and it's identical to ours, so that's how you were able to hack in. Thought about doing that a few months ago, but got sidetracked. Anything to relieve the boredom, eh?"

Half way through reading the text messages, you get a message flash across your vision: "Coercion attempt detected. Override running." BTW: There is a control where you can turn off the override if you ever want too.

2015-07-16 - Swarmed

  • Further 'coercion attempts' were unsuccessful. Sinnel tried turning the override off to see what happened. Without realizing it, she put her blasters down and started walking away. Override came back on and blasters were retrieved just in time for battle with fellow workers.
  • A total of 9 people were mentally commanded to kill Sinnel. It was a grueling fight, and Sinnel's new ability to stay conscious no matter what was pivotal.
  • During the fight, more 'coercion attempts'.
  • Last slave finished off the previous slaves - mentalist didn't want too many witnesses.
  • On the verge of death, Sinnel ran "The-Code-That-Shall-Not-Be-Run". Became a mentalist of the 2 pt per stage variety. The initial pulse of mental power highlighted the other mentalist briefly, and vice versa.
  • Enemy mentalist withdrew and the last worker ended up running away.
  • And finally a very revealing, strange, mind-warping conversation with the people on the dark web.

Plot Infliction 003 - Burden of Truth

You're seven days into decrypting Beta-Block when you're finished your punishment. Heading back to your complex, you notice a lot of protests and occasional riots amongst the population. Browsing of the news reveals that the Security party has passed a law requiring even more surveillance and restriction of freedom. The Liberty party is protesting big time.

You find that your immediate schedule is 4 days of work, and then back to the 2/2/2 schedule. Morris has changed your assignment somewhat - you're analysis and decryption duties are cut by half and the rest is taking over some of his duties - coordinating other mathematicians.

During your work days, you notice a lot more violence out in the streets. Also, a neighbor stack that specializes in biologists and medics are sending a lot of combat medics to earn some money. Talk amongst your mathematician underlings is that there's a 6% chance the Liberty Party will try and preempt the next election and take over by force.

The people on the Dark Web are quiet.

Reality question: are Custom Occupations possible?
MBA/willpower/stress points are a tactical concern going forward, and want more combat prowess than Leader affords.

What is the probability that the increased violence is primarily due to Trupepol activity?

It's hard to tolerate being honour-bound to serve the Space Republican Party.

Custom occupations are possible after 5th stage, or if you can find a leader that has something similar to what you want to do.

Increased violence primarily due to Trupepol: 3%. And all the permutations of that possibility has the Trupepol infiltrated into the Security party and the source of the new law they passed.

Increased violence helped along by Trupepol: 15%

After your 4 work days you get two days at home to do decrypting. Anything else you want to do while you're there?

Waiting for a custom occupation until after 5th stage means that at least one stage of Leader is required before then. Hmmm... If Sinnel goes for another stage of Aggressor, she'll get the triple-pistol capability, but be balancing at the limit of her Willpower with no safety buffer for potential stress points. Considering that Sinnel is being used for some low-level management anyway, perhaps a stage of Leader next makes sense.

ASIDE: She also needs the stage stamina from her completion of Aggressor.

One of the things I forgot to insist on is that Sinnel works to scrub the mark that the slimy mentalist smeared on her. Preferably before she shunts to her home, so she doesn't lead anyone/thing there while working on the decryption.

Outside of the Paranoid Political Party, is there anybody working on security measures against Trupepol?

Also.... let's assume a month is 0.1 of a year and a day is 1/30 of a month. You gained your first stage of Mathematician on 4975.4, was put to work non-stop on mathematician type stuff, and then was sold on 4976.8. That's four months mathematician training. Let's say another 1/2 month while you were doing defender training. And since playing, that 7 days of decrypting while on punishment duty brings you up to a total of 5 months. If you want it, you can now be a 2nd stage Mathematician. That would cut your decrypting time in half for the remaining code blocks.

You scrub the mark, but it's an easy no will power required mark and you've read that usually it's a lot tougher to scrub. You estimate there's a 60% chance you've been marked better and you just can't detect it.

Everyone is working on security measures against the Trupepol. The Security party is focused on surveillance and paranoia. Liberty party is trying to structure all of it's personnel into groups of three, at least one of which has high will power. Each triad has a very integrated battle-wiki and the hope is that if one is compromised, the other two will notice. Other stacks are using a variety of measures - probably anything you can imagine is being used somewhere.

Interesting quandary. Being 2nd stage Mathematician would be incredibly useful. But, again, being completely without safety buffer on the Willpower is a risk.
Screw it - Sinnel levels up in Mathematician. Which then means she can shunt 8 MBA into locate bonus to find the zarking mark, and expunge it.

Speaking of triads, Sinnel tries to contact Tiltelm and Xunkira to see how they're doing. She might propose meeting up later for some more Stunning Training, and drinks.

You dump the points for the bonus to hit and duck, and let them percolate back. And then dump everything into a bonus to locate. A +8 supernatural bonus to locate. You suddenly know where Tiltelm and Xunkria are, as well as Morris, and those bounty hunters you were dealing with a while back. If you concentrated, you could probably figure out where fellow slaves from Goron's place ended up. Maybe even Goron. At the moment, you would make an epic bounty hunter.

You focus on searching for the mark until you got your maximum roll of 30. You know it's there. You have a feeling that you're 'really' close to finding it, but it's just on the edge of your perception. The mentalist's awareness must be 20+.

Mentalist Telepathically: "Nice try. But don't worry, I'm done trying to kill you for now. I may have use for you later, and since you already know I exist, I can talk to you freely. Though I'm damned curious - how did you resist my mental control? I'm pretty sure I double your will power. You should have been my bitch."

Tiltelm and Xunkira are doing fine and good to visit the stun bar again. The 4 days of work after the punishment puts you back on the same schedule as they are. You guess Morris had something to do with that.

Damn mocking mentalist Acolyte. It's almost enough to make a character wish to be evil. Looks like Sinnel will have to avoid doing anything too interesting for a while, and focus on earning that stage of Leader. Which probably means hanging out with Bug Trio more. What is the projected remaining decrypt time of the β-block, with the two stages of Mathematician?

Sinnel does not engage with the Mentalist in conversation just yet. Instead, Sinnel runs a continuous loop of mental torture and starts actively interspersing thoughts with the decryption work as a way of helping hide strategic thoughts amongst difficult-to-parse processes.

Morris appears to be living up to his "good" nature.

The remaining time on Beta-Block is now 1.5 days. You can finish it in your free time if you wish.

At some point, either during your work days or free days, you get a text message from Vanessa on the colony ship. "Are you still there? We're having no luck figuring out where your signal is coming from. And our superiors on Earth are having a tough time believing you exist - we're not pushing the issue at the moment. There's apparently someone who's interested in talking to you, but it's going to be a while before they get clearance. Probably a week or so."

1.5 days sounds just about exactly right - it gives Sinnel a half day to connect with her peeps (Stunning, drinking, and travelling). Hopefully her now double-digit awareness will help keep her out of trouble for the duration. The rest of the time can be spent finishing the β-block decryption. She's extremely interested in finding out what it does.

Incidentally, Sinnel is also curious to see if Tiltelm or Xunkira have levelled up in any occupations yet. And, if so, what.

Captain Vanessa: "Hello there - still here. At least, I'm simulated to think that I'm still here. Though I have been struggling with teleological considerations, like: is connecting to a simulation with sufficient resolution to emulate fundamental particles functionally different from connecting to an alternate universe? But, whatever. Any meta information about the person who wants to talk to the simulation that has possibly broken a fourth wall?"

Maybe next rest cycle Sinnel should power up some clairvoyance, and maybe make contact with some of the other Ex-Goron slaves.

Actually, home days were after work, and then free days. So the rest of beta decryption happens at home. As it runs, you get a similar sensation to when "The-Code-That-Shall-Not-Be-Run" was activated. You body seems to pulse with supernatural power and then settles to a low simmer. You have a new repository of points - let's call it 'Mana'. As you're 4th stage, you have 40 points. When you use them, they regenerate at 1 point per hour, or if you sleep for 4 hours, they are all returned. You have a couple of settings:

  • Visual & Auditory effects: On/Off
  • Members of Party: [empty]

At the moment, you don't seem to have any abilities with these points - that's where the sub-beta-blocks come in. They're the 'spells'.

Vanessa: "He's a bit of an expert at what happens inside the simulation. Does a lot of interviews with people just coming out. Command thinks that if anyone would be able to confirm your story, he would."

Tiltelm and Xunkria each have gained another stage of Defender. They've been involved in riot control recently.

So, you've got another 1/2 day at home, and then out to meet with the bugs. If you're just hanging out at the stun bar, you could finish off either one of the lesser β-block or the last α-block.

One point that almost messes you up - stun damage will never make you go unconscious. It doesn't register as actual damage to however that consciousness override is working. You'll have to turn it off if you want the stun fights to look realistic.

Oh goodie: Mana.
What is this "sleep" thing of which you speak?

Sinnel plays with the "Visual & Auditory effects" toggle to see what happens by itself. Then let's arbitrarily pick one of the small β-blocks to see what we can conjure.

Vanessa: "That's interesting. Because I've been able to uncover some more evidence that backs up your story. Now I'm hoping that this simulator is mostly about fun and adventure, and not some grisly training or horrible punishment."

Considering that Sinnel mostly plans on training with her peeps - who have no bonus to hit - she's probably going to just feign some slight dazing and conceding defeat well before total unconsciousness would seem necessary. The excuse will be that she's still paranoid about the grudge bounty, and does not want to be too frequently defenseless.

Yup, whomever designed this thing was envisioning it in an environment where people slept on a regular basis. You have to make yourself unconscious for 4 hours to get all your power back at once. The visual/auditory effects toggle doesn't do anything on it's own.

One of the small β-blocks you say. There are 5 of them, so let's pick one at random... #4. Once decrypted, it doesn't give you a name or anything, but you can see that it's meant to be cast on yourself or on another person. It costs 5 mana to cast. Whom shall be the guinea pig?

There is clearly no option for test subjects - Sinnel cannot trust anyone with either the information, or to give sufficient feedback. So she casts #4 on herself.

You feel stronger. Your force increases by 50%. It lasts about 5 minutes.

You've got 2 more work/home/free cycles before something interesting happens. 4 days of decrypting for the home days, up to 4 for the free days. Or meditation/clairvoyance if you wish.

Funny how the word "interesting" has such a foreboding aspect in games.

Sinnel will finish off the remaining alpha-sub-block, then move on to filling time with decrypting a few more smaller beta-sub-blocks. With breaks for stunning training with the bug crew.

After finishing the alpha sub block, you notice that on everyone's HUD, the money number has an adjustment control. Both of your credit accounts have adjustment controls on them as well.


Time to buy that strike class cruiser I've always wanted.

You'll find once you test it, that the credit amount can only be raised or lowered by 100. And once it's set, there's a 1 hour countdown before anything can be adjusted again.

You can decrypt 3 more of the smallest sub-blocks. Two of them you can cast on yourself, so are easily testable. One increases all of your movement rolls by 50%. The other muffles all noise you make, giving you +3 sneak/hide. Again, both are active for about 5 minutes.

The third one appears to only work on other people, and there's a will power contest involved.

Soooo... bump the account by 100 credits every hour?
Just kidding, such desperate tactics will be saved for more concrete goals.

Instead Sinnel will blithely blunder into the "interesting"...

2015-07-24 - Stun Bar Go Boom

Agents of freedom who violently murder innocents are the exact sort of logically-inconsistent entities that Sinnel hates most.

  • Liberty insurgents attacked Security held areas of the stack.
  • A large bomb was thrown into the stun bar. The bugs were one of the very few who survived.
  • A Trop, and then a wounded Crocaloid came in to finish people off. They underestimated the Bug Trio and were killed.
  • Morris sent them on a mission to help some other slaves - killed the people chasing them. One got away.
  • Back the bar a medic from a different stack was helping. Bartender paid for bug's healing.

Plot Infliction 004 - Insurgents Like Explosives

The medic heals all three up of you up to full - he appears to be a 2nd stage medic. For a brief moment while working on you he gets a puzzled expression, but he seems to shrug it off and keeps working. The bartender pays for all of the healing. The violence in the streets seems to ease off and people start trickling in. There's a video going around of Tiltelm and Xunkira fencing with ripped off Equidon arms, so they get bought lots of drinks.

Medic: "Would any of you like some armour? I can make 10 stamina plates. Cost would be 20 credits per plate plus raw material... though I think we can just use the 'pile'." He gestures to the pile of charred bodies that were dragged to a corner."

What's Mr. 2nd-stage medic's nature?
It's also probably worthwhile to make some calculations as to probabilities about what he noticed - and what he might have guessed it to be.

Considering that there might be some significant supply of insectizoid carapaces, it might fit in with Sinnel's fashion sensibilities while also serving some considerable tactical use. Due to the good healing, I assume it been over an hour since the move boots purchase so will bump Sinnel's account to purchase some armour. If he doesn't have to die, obviously.

Medic is Chaotic Neutral. 85% probability it was some random thought regarding his healing ("Hey, I thought I already fixed that ligament.") 20% chance he noticed some piece of tissue that seemed to be almost too healthy, as if it was healed supernaturally or something, and 5% chance he noticed something odd about your body that's related to your access to the Dark Web.

You've only got enough time for him to make helmets for the three of you and then you've got to go back to work. He gives you his comm number for your next free days.

Everything is tense back at the office. Normally you'd be working 1/2 on the big decryption project, and 1/2 on hunting for signs of Trupepol. But now all of your time is taken up going through surveillance looking for signs of additional Liberty attacks. Martial law has been declared on the stack. The government has deployed thousands of battle-robots to supplement their regular troops to try and keep the peace. The more intense people on the Security side of the political spectrum have launched counter-attacks against Liberty targets. The main stream members of both sides are trying to de-escalate things, but it doesn't seem be working. Riots and attacks are becoming more and more common.

On your second work day, the Trupepol Acolyte contacts you telepathically. His mental voice sounds strained and nervous.

"Hello Sinnel. As much as it pains me, I need to save your life today. I've intercepted one of your fellow slaves. The problem with you people using slaves is that if someone manages to fake the right credentials, they can order a slave to do whatever the hell they want. This particular slave was a maintenance tech and he managed to get a sophisticated bomb into your building. At least I think it's your building." He tells you specific coordinates. It's closer to the area where Morris works. "I'm not close enough to get to it in time. It's cloaked - you'll have to feel for a keypad and key in 4-5-9 to disarm it. According to this slave, it's set to go off in about 8 minutes. I suggest you move."

One helmet each: check.

Trupepol Acolyte: "Explain to me your motivation for altering events in this way." Sinnel will hold off on running probabilities until after she has more raw data.

Meanwhile, Sinnel does a mental seek for:

  1. Any specific instructions she might have received that would pertain to this situation. I'm guessing that "don't do what a Trupepol says" might be a thing.
  2. A methodology for determining if there is a generalized "nature" that might be attributed to the Security Party by virtue of its actions.

The mischievous thought is to let the core of the Security Party get vaporized, thus technically freeing herself contractually. While honestly thinking that this is all a manipulation by the Trupepol Acolyte to get leverage on Sinnel, or something else similarly nefarious. Affection by a being with double one's willpower is hard to put much faith in. But based on Sinnel's nature, and possible extrapolations of possible yield of such a device, she might simply have to attempt to avert deaths of innocents.

Trupepol Acolyte: "Sure, as long as you're moving while I explain. It's simple. My job was to try and keep things stable on this stack... which I appear to be failing miserably. I figure if the bomb goes off, it will make it even more difficult to defuse things. And before you ask, I don't know why my job was to keep things stable here. When you're dealing with ultra-powerful mentalist overlords you learn not to ask questions."

Regarding potential yield. If it's a similar bomb to what was used in the Stun Bar, you'll be fine, though there will be high casualties in the Morris's area. If it's ship scale, it really depends on the size. A 1D bomb you figure you've got a 50/50 chance of surviving. A 2D bomb and you'll be bug goo. And if it truly is cloaked like the Trupepol says, the probabilities lean toward it being something big.

No specific orders about interactions with the Trupepol... the only order that might come close in this situation is to not do anything bad against Security Party property. Not doing anything about a bomb (if there is one) would fall under that directive.

You get the feeling that both Security and Liberty are 'Neutral' in their nature. Neither seems to be bent on evil conquest or whole-sale subjugation of their citizens. Though, they also don't seem all that benevolent either.

Sinnel starts moving.
BUT. Are there any reasons why Sinnel can give for being in the vicinity of the alleged explosive, such that they can be reasonable excuses for her having "found" it? And is it possible for Sinnel to get to the location of the explosive in a manner that doesn't scream meta-messags about urgency or emergency? Because explaining the specifics of how this intervention came to be is well outside of Sinnel's tactical plans for remaining un-executed.

Trupepol Acolyte: "Your explanation fails several key components of 'truthiness'. Mostly in the realms of having zombified numerous people to try to murder me, then murdering all said zombies in a way that essentially screams 'Look! Look! We witnessed something that meant we had to die!' These are fundamentally de-stabilizing actions, and extremely counter to your proposed reasoning. Try gooder."

Sinnel calculates the probability that Morris could get to the device faster, separate from the probabilities about how Morris would react to a message saying: "A mentalist, probably Trupepol, contacted me mentally and told me that there was a large explosive device at location XYZ, cloaked, and can be defused by feeling for a keypad and entering 4-5-9. Apparently set to detonate in about 8 minutes (minus futzing time spent thus far)". NOTE: this message is not actually sent. Yet.

If you walk calmly, you think you wont make it in time. If you walk urgently, like someone ordered you to bring something to your supervisor quickly, you'll probably make it. Obvious excuse would be that you were ordered there by your supervisor - problem being if some other supervisor stops you to ask what you're doing. As for the bomb itself, it depends on where it is. It's cloaked, so it's entirely possible it's out in the open where you will have to stick your hand in and disarm it in full view of everyone around you.

Morris could definitely get to it faster.

Acolyte: "Well aren't we full of ourselves. Killing a bunch of low level slaves isn't quite enough to destabilize a stack on New Bronx. It was worth it to reduce the number of witnesses to obvious mentalist activities. By the way, jamming is scheduled to start 5 minutes before detonation."


HAL: "Using these bits of information (indicating all the relevant aspects of the explosive stuff), please create a text message as if you were Morris - my supervisor - instructing me to investigate. Thanks. I'll then slip that into my comms log with a legit timestamp, as a potential excuse that might help obfuscate investigators. Are there any routing remnants of comms? If so, I'll text Morris' AI "OK" to start establishing my alibi.

THEN, a quick casting of a magically-enhanced movement - so that she can move more effortlessly at the desired speed - Sinnel starts towards the trap designated location. She'll also shunt a couple points of MBA into telekinesis, for the purposes of hands-free fumbling with cloaked devices.

Acolyte: "Regardless of how unworthy a target I might be, hunting people is still fundamentally counter to your stated goal of 'keep things stable'. More explanation is required."

How much time has elapsed?

Acolyte: "Right... Considering that I'm not the one about to be blown up, I'd don't really feel like being interrogated. Good luck with the bomb."

HAL sends you the text message, and you're able to send a message back to him, and then change the info so that it looks like you're talking with Morris. It wouldn't fool a higher stage mathematician, but should be good for now. You make yourself quick and start heading towards the supposed bomb.

On a scale of 2 to 12, you're difficulty getting there is a... 8. So, you have to sidetrack a few supervisors that you feel might stop you, but that only slows you down a bit. The jamming does start at the five minute mark. At the two minute mark you enter a conference room that is currently empty except for furniture. The coordinates point to this room. You estimate up to 4 minutes to search it completely by hand/telekinesis until you feel something cloaked, and then up to a half-minute to find the keypad and enter the disarm code.

It appears that time is not on Sinnel's side. Therefore, she start dripping MBA into bonus to locate until either she spots the supposed cloaked explosive - and all they ways that she's being observed - or she runs out of points and has to panic. In which case, she will be considerably less dignified. Hopefully it doesn't come to that, and she can discover/disarm the zarking thing with panache.

Captain Vanessa, Ben: "Uh, hi there. Quick update - it's possible that I'm about the explode. In which case I might not be conversing much more. But I'd like to simulated-say it's been simulated-nice to simulated-meet you."

Venessa: "Um, ok. Good luck."

Ben: "Dude! If you die, you may wake up here and we can figure out who you are! That is, unless you die for real... yeah, that would suck. We'd have to clean up a corpse."

You put the first MBA point into locate. It's not enough to find the bomb, but it is enough to confirm that there is indeed a ship scale explosive. In the same room as you. About to go off. It causes a certain amount of panic and you dump whatever points you have left into locate. That makes it easy. It's hovering near the ceiling in a corner of the room. If you didn't have telekinesis active you'd have to awkwardly reach up and/or climb the wall/furniture to get at it. Without the telekinesis, you probably wouldn't have made it. As it is, with seconds to spare, you finally find the keypad and enter the code. The bomb tight-beams you: "Countdown deactivated - entering standby mode".

You're about to start checking for cameras or other observers when your über-locate tingles and you sense the dozen or so other bombs littered about this area of the stack. You almost get out an 'ah fuck...' before the room shakes and power to this section goes out. Then the room lurches downward at a 45° angle and you and the furniture all go crashing down to one side of the room. You sense the armed bomb being jostled about up at the ceiling, especially as the other side of the room gives way and it comes crashing down as well.

1 in 6 chance the bomb goes off anyway... well fuck. There's a blinding white flash, then a moment of searing pain, and then nothing.

An indeterminate time later you regain consciousness. Memories come flooding in. You're a human woman. Including Sinnel, you've had 6 lives within the simulator. You don't actually see anything, but in your mind's vision there's a HUD you can access. It says:

You have died. Options:
  1. Resurrect.
  2. Respawn To Next Life. (Note: Power user access will not transfer to new avatar)
  3. Exit.

In all of your other times through the simulator, you've never had these options before. You were scheduled to go through ten lives and then exit.


Before I respawn:

  • Who am I?
  • Where am I?
  • Who else have I been?

  • Random colonist heading to a new colony world. You can pick a name if you want. :)
  • On a colony ship.
  • Other five lives:
    • 2 uneventful quickies - died in low stage bar fights.
    • 1 decade long stint on a utopian planet. Didn't actually die - just ended after a decade.
    • 1 life as a turret gunner in the 2nd galaxy.

Ah, but which colony ship? Is perchance CS4973, under the command of a 'captain Vanessa'?

Let's RESURRECT then, and see how that goes.

Indeed, you are on CS4973. Vanessa is one of the captains that cycle between active duty and time in the simulator.

You select 'Resurrect' from the menu. It flashes "You have 4 resurrections left on this power user account." and everything fades to black. Back on New Bronx, the largest chunk of your body suddenly reforms into a fully functional you. You're at full stamina. Briefly. Then you take 25 points of damage as debris crushes you.

There are consequences to dying. Here's what you've lost:

  • Every last shred of gear.
  • Credits.
  • HAL.
  • Slave Juice.
  • Any memory or data which was stored in your nanoscopic robots. All you have is what your biological mind remembers.
  • The mark from the Acolyte.

However, you are at full MBA and Mana. You still have your HUD (with money/pain/consciousness adjustments) and access to the Dark Web. You've lost the coordinates to the beta-blocks, but because you've already decrypted some of them, you can backtrack and find them again.

You have no idea how much debris is on you. Enough such that you can't move. Jamming is still active, but after a few minutes there's a high intensity tight beam signal from above. It's just a ping, likely someone searching the debris for survivors.

2015-07-24 - Debris Field Combat

  • Dug out by formal slaves loyal to Morris.
  • Morris was de-legged in the blast.
  • Found out Security Party dissolved, releasing all slaves.
  • Fought a bunch of evil and/or crazy slaves that wanted retribution against their former owners.

Plot Infliction 005 - Aftermath

You're still trapped in the debris field, but there are no more combatants to try and kill you. At least none that want to face a Groten with two large flare rifles. There's intermittent jamming, but you're mostly able to communicate with the outside world.

Any plans? You've got a day until you're dug out.

First and foremost is to heal up to full. I doubt there is anything we can do to get Morris up past half stamina, but that'll have to do.

"Morris, we probably need to have some contingency plan for escape and evasion after we're 'rescued'. Whomever manipulated the situation to alter the political landscape in the Stack is likely in overt control now. As assets of the deposed power structure, we might be deemed to pose a risk. What insights do you have?"

Sinnel has plans to run a series of juicy-morsel-class prescience questions - possibly informed by any information Morris might proffer.

Morris: "Meh, I'm going to see if the new government wants to hire me. Got a couple interviews lined up already. If there was some conspiracy to overthrow the government, they're not going to care about some low level geeks like us. I may be smart, but I was never good at playing politics. No-one's going to care that we still exist." Pause. "Unless your Trupepol contacts you again... you let me know if that happens, ok?" Probably about a 90% chance he thinks the Trupepol is a product of your damaged imagination.

Mmmmmmm.... juicy morsels.....

"How reassuringly cavalier. What are your plans for limb replacement, and do you want a short, fat bodyguard for the duration? Meanwhile, to fend off some stress points, I'm going to meditate and try to find some inner calm."

Juicy Morsel Array:

  1. Who should Sinnel be worried about most?
  2. Why should Sinnel be most worried about them?
  3. Repeat 1-2 with "most--" UNTIL time runs out, or something interesting happens.

You can do an initial juicy morsel with the points you have...

You get a vision of a group of six people, standing in a circle dressed in robes. From your vantage point, it's as if you're floating above them. You know they are Trupepol elite and they're on Old Earth. They seem to be chanting and/or meditating. Inside the circle, you see a planet floating a couple meters off the ground. It's covered in a grey hexagon pattern - obviously New Bronx. There are floating cross-hairs on it projected from the six Trupepol.

As the vision fades, the six suddenly seem startled and then all turn to look up at you.

The next 'worried about' morsel will largely depend on if you actually meditate in front of Morris and the Groten, or if you just let the points trickle back 1 per hour.

Paranoia is fun!

Let's hope the "reducing stress points" excuse is sufficient: proceeding to meditate.

You meditate a couple of hours to get your MBA back up to full. Morris seems unperturbed, and the Groten isn't smart enough to connect any dots. Then you go for another juicy morsel.

What should you be worried about aside from the impending Trupepol doom... The vision has a tough time coalescing, as if reality is having trouble deciding which doom shall befall you first.

Finally, you see a string of people. First it's Morris, who you're not threatened by, but who is going to file a report on everything that has happened once he's rehired by the government. Next it's a Anurain mathematician who is reviewing all reports coming in from the attack. Then it's a Yiptak combatant in a soldier's uniform. Then it's a Human wearing typical scientific garb. He's the one you get the most pang of fear from and who you should be worried about.

At some point later Morris says: "Good news. I've been rehired. And I've got you a job too - same as you were doing before with the two-two-two schedule. You'll get another apartment and a small pay. After a trial period of a couple months, the pay will go up to 50 credits per day. Sound good?"

2015-08-06 - Buggy Reunion

...Resisting urge to make programming joke...

  • Doesn't take the government job
  • Meets up with Tiltelm and Xunkira - has a few bar fights

Plot Infliction 006 - Of Bugs And Men

To recap:

  • Prescience vision indicates Trupepol are targeting New Bronx somehow.
  • Scary Trupepol detected Sinnel.
  • Prescience also indicates Jodan government will eventually come after Sinnel.
  • Morris is rehired and still on friendly terms.
  • Sinnel is back with Tiltelm and Xunkira, and due to the higher intelligence and stage of leader, is definitely Alpha-Bug.
  • Two of the other slaves that HAL had a receipt for are still alive - one on New Bronx searching for Sinnel, and one somewhere else. Third one is dead.
  • Trupepol acolyte seems to have given up trying to kill Sinnel for the moment.
  • Lots more Beta-Blocks to decrypt. Two decrypted ones yet untested. All seemed to change when Sinnel when up a stage.

No way to know timelines on anything.

You're currently hanging out at a professional bar, picking fights. Plans?

It occurs to me that Sinnel's comrades will doubtlessly be used against her once the Agent's attentions return, so perhaps she'll keep her contact with them slightly remote.

"Guys? I'm going to take a little walkabout. I'll be in touch, and feel free to contact me in case you need advice, or money, or some weak-ass combat backup. There's a goodly chance I might need some occasional brawny assistance too."

After waiting to see what comments or requests the big bugs might have, Sinnel plans to slink out somewhat stealthily. Then to do some experiments on what the updated versions of the powers are, and to finally find some suitable test subjects for the unexplored powers.

The guys seem ok with it. Tiltelm seemed to expect it, probably thinks you're bored not doing something more intellectually stimulating.

The abilities you try on yourself have improved. The movement one now doubles your movement instead of +50%. Same with the strength. The silence one now makes you completely silent bumping up the bonus to +5 sneak/hide.

How do you test the other two? They both involve a will power attack.

To Tiltelm and Xunkira: "There is a Trupepol Acolyte in the stack that is trying to kill me. No, really. And his usual method is to make people around me want to kill me. So I would rather have people a lot wimpier than you nearby, and people I don't mind murdering in order to defend myself."

Testing = stealth + "here Vimren, Vimren, Vimren..." (Preferably completely alone and unobserved.)

Testing on Vimren... You spot a group of three of them chasing after a fourth. You try one of the spells on one of the pursuers and the effect is obvious - the Vimren's speed has been reduced to 1. Looks like any dice that are being put into it are automatically 1's too. The Vimren is quickly left in the dust by his comrades. You try the other spell on one of the other Vimren, but the effect is unknown as the Vimren continues on his chase.

2015-08-13 - Hunting Evil

kill kill frolic kill...

  • Uses prescience to look for fellow Goron slave that was looking for him. Found outside the stack, but was still able to make contact.
  • The other slave is a robot named Adam. Leader ability indicates he's evil and untrustworthy.
  • Adam had a different beta-block - gave him the ability to instantly regain all stamina - can be used once an hour (at the moment).
  • Sinnel didn't reveal the location of his beta-block even though Adam revealed his. However, the chaotic evil nature of Adam says that the location may be a lie.
  • Went hunting for chaotic evil people using prescience. Fun was had by all.

Plot Infliction 007 - Hiatus

Got 5 days to kill... any plans, or more chaotic evil hunting?

On one hand, Sinnel is eager to become more combat effective - without burning piles of MBA and/or mana. But it seems unwise to paint to clear a public modus operandi for certain entities to track. And there are plenty of time-burning things to decrypt that might prove useful.

So, Sinnel will mostly just hole up and run decryption on the next packets in line. She'll ping the other bugkateers occasionally to see if they need any assistance, advice, or money. The holing-up will shift occasionally, preferring quiet areas away from much action, and always with the watch probes set out first.

The impending dooms of the Trupepol Acolyte and the fascist stack government bug hunt will need addressing before too much longer...

After a day or so, the bugs check in with you to see if you have anything planned - they got offered a short term job guarding some business people who got stuck here. They'll take it unless you want them for something else. It will last a couple weeks.

You manage to get 4 days worth of decrypting while you're holing up. That will unlock two more spells. The first one you can cast on yourself or another person. When you try it, nothing obvious happens but you get the feeling it will be utilized when you attack. The second one is similar, except it you get an intense feeling of focused aggression. Translating to game mechanics - 1/2 of your duck moves to a bonus to hit. So instead of duck 6 and hit 3, it's duck 3 and hit 6. Both of these cost 8 mana each.

Any other last minute questions before the SHTF?

If not - choose your doom! Pick high, medium, or low!  :)

Just to note that over the course of 5 days, Sinnel would have amassed several thousand credits. And that she intended to burn some of that on a set of triple-movement move boots.


Move boots - check.

Adam hails you. "Sinnel! How's it going? Decided to stick around for a while. I'm hoping you reconsidered giving me the coordinates to your beta-blocks. Thought I'd give you one more chance before I started making your life miserable. Whadya say? Give me the coordinates and I'll leave New Bronx, never to bother you again."

Sinnel pokes her mark (or just thinks really loudly): "Anychance I could contract you out to help with a robot problem? My main problem with said robot is that it's chaotic evil, but your group might have problems with its access to mentally based abilities."

Adam: "Hello. You are probably just a puppet of a cruel and chaotic sysadmin, therefore negotiation with you is pointless. However, you are probably worth a lot of experience."

Acolyte: "Wait, what? Robot's can't be mentalists."

Adam: "I'm no-one's puppet. But anyway, I figured you wouldn't give. Let me know when you change your mind. And remember - with great power, comes great mischief. Laters."

Adam: "Oh, and just to get the ball rolling, I put a 5000 bounty on each of your friends. Good luck."

Acolyte: "But, hey, you got a robot problem, I'm all for it. I'm bored watching the government freak out anyway. Though just so we're clear, I'm still eventually going to kill you."

Well, based on that information...

First - Verify the bounties on the comrades, then Sinnel sends messages to both Tiltelm and Xunkira: "DANGER! A 5-kilocredit grudge bounty has been placed on both of you. Reason might be your association with me. I strongly suggest both of you go to ground."

Acolyte: "Which reminds me - it might not help to kill the droid. It is also a superuser, and thus potentially able to resurrect itself. So, containment might be the key - but I'm open to ideas."

2015-08-27 - Couple Of Seasoned Bounty Hunters

... were defeated with a generous helping of magic & MBA.

Plot Infliction 008 - Trouble In Jordan

Morris sends you an information packet detailing the hell the leaders of Jordan are going through.

  • Some hacker (Adam) has been infiltrating their systems the last few days. He was detected, but they couldn't stop him.
  • He issued orders to all of the battle robots to kill everyone (except each other) in the stack and maintain comm silence.
  • He caused their entire cash reserve to be blown on speculative investments in other stacks. Jordan is now broke.
  • He disabled most of the environmental control equipment on the stack - some was just turned off, but others were set such that they overloaded or broke down. The bulk of the battle robots are down there preventing repairs. It's going to get hot and gaspy on the stack soon.

Morris: "So, if you find a way off of the stack, I'd appreciate a ride-along."

Totally. Forgot. About. The. Cheat-Overide. Powers.

Morris: "If you're contemplating abandoning the stack, that suggests that things are relatively hopeless. What makes you think that I would have more resources for getting off the stack than you would? Orthogonal to that: why would I want you with me if I was leaving?"

Acolyte: "Sooo... if there's some actual good reason for 'maintaining stability' in this stack - please let me know. Perhaps I can help you and your masters with that. Especially since it looks like there's a large bunch of security robots that need to be destroyed here. But, otherwise, I'd suggest abandoning this stack."


  • slap-happy to not die
  • head to equipment store to purchase
    • more patches (to not die later)
    • simple environmental gear (to not die from lack of O2)

Morris: "By all measures, it looks like the Trupepol have got a sizable force here causing trouble. It's only a matter of time before all the neighboring stacks take action of the form of 'Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure'. I doubt they'd actually use nukes, but there's definitely an invasion coming. So, yeah, it's abandon ship time. I have no idea if you have the resources to get off, but you seem to have a knack for surviving, so I figured what the hell. As for wanting to take me along... I'm hoping the whole digging you out of the rubble counts for something."

Acolyte: "Well, I assume there is a good reason, but I think it's moot. The government is being hit hard by some sort of digital invaders from what I can glean. Funny thing is that everyone thinks it's me. If you do have a way to settling things down, we'd be interested. Maybe we can make you an honorary Trupepol." You get a mental impression that the Acolyte is serious about that last bit, and thinks it's hilarious.

Slap-slap-slap-slap... Weapon and equipment stores are starting to sell out of stuff - replacement supplies/dynomer are not coming in.

There seems to be a migration upwards - looks like people think there will be more air up there.

That's two big strikes against the stack - if neither Morris not the Acolyte can articulate a reason or a way to save the stack, Sinnel is not ambitious enough to contemplate doing it alone. The main task appears to be destroying the corrupted security robots, which would be good experience, but would look like something awfully Trupepol-ish.

By way to contemplation of bugging out, Sinnel does a search for spaceports in the stack, and what vessels are currently present.

Also: just to confirm that Sinnel was able to obtain some life support for herself and the Big Bugs.

Morris: "Cross-stack invasion sounds... exciting. What are the leading theories for the invasion plans? I have a hard time imagining how they would avoid contaminating influence from the supposed Trupepol force here. Is there anybody doing anything to address the corrupted security robots and the life support sabotage?"

Acolyte: "There's an awful lot of dissonance with the idea of being an honorary Trupepol that you have to kill eventually. Nevertheless, it appears as though everyone in this stack is potentially going to be executed for the sake of destroying you. Or, at least, the imagined multiplicity of you they fear are infecting this stack. Are you planning on evacuating? Or is there anything you can do to help correct what's going on in this stack?"

Yes, you have life support for the three of you.

Morris: "My guess would be continuing to blockade all of the exits. They've got to know that life support is failing, so that's going to do the job for them. If I were in charge, I'd send in a bunch of intermediate scale robots as well to secure strategic points."

Acolyte: "Evacuation does seem like a prudent course... but if we could find a way to settle the place down, that would definitely give me a whole mess of brownie points with the higher ups. Might get my next stage too. I think the first course of action would be to regain control of the lower levels and get life support working again. I can 'convince' everyone I see to start heading down to attack the battle robots. We'd need a technician on our side though. Think you can swing that?"

Morris: "Yeah, we're all pretty screwed. First we've been set up such that we need to destroy our own security in order to re-establish life support. Then we need to survive the inevitable invasion to purge us afterward. So, first question: do you have any technicians you can send down behind the strike teams? Tiltelm and Xunkira and myself seem to be suffering more extra-special attentions, for some reason, but we'll try to help out as a strike team too. We'll probably need some daisychained communication system, as a backup for the inevitable jamming that will start. I assume that there's some hardlines we can use for much of that. Meanwhile, we should probably start sifting out the humans from the population. That should help us demonstrate our non-Trupepol-ness to our impending invading overlords who are coming to slavamize us all for the greater good. Lastly, if I were you, I would be trying to figure out who in the so-called government might be somehow culpable."

Acolyte: "Instead of overt convincing people of a painfully-obvious-in-retrospect thing, how about just smoothing everybody's emotional state such that they become functional? A good old 'keep calm, think about the greater good, focus on the task at hand' sort of soothing effect would probably be more beneficial than swarms of innocents throwing themselves at hardened battle bots. Also, for the time being, if you could locally convince powerful bounty hunters to not bother with us for a while, that would be helpful too."

So... where are those space ports? And what ships might be there?

The large spaceports are at the top of the stack, and are being swarmed. There's smaller ports all along the outside of the stack, though the chances of there being ships there that haven't already taken off are slim.

Morris gives you access to the hard line comm system as well as a map to all the nodes. You just have to tight-beam a node to get access.

"Unfortunately, I don't have enough privileges at the moment to send personnel your way, but it's likely technicians are already headed down with the combat teams. You could probably find some easy enough. I doubt sifting out the humans will go over very well. We're already fighting our own robots, don't want to fight our own people too."

Acolyte: "You've got a bounty...?" pause... "Whoa, you're friends got huge ones. Who'd they piss off? I have a feeling I won't be able to talk you into ditching them. So sure, I'll see if I can help in that area."

Down down dooby do down down...

What is the timeline for the atmospheric quality decay? Is it possible to sideline for a couple hours to heal/meditate?

2015-09-05 - DroidRobot Hunting

Destroying security robots as they head down.

  • Patrol - 2 robots
  • Saved a Felinid from 3 robots
  • Used prescience to home in on a squad of four robots doing repairs. Slaughtered all but one. The last one surrendered and with a physical connection, Sinnel was able to give it new orders. The robot (designated Bob) is now their bodyguard.

Plot Infliction 009 - Almost there...

All four of you are 1-2 experience away from going up a stage. Xunkira's probably doing striker again. Tiltem's going up in Agressor. I'm surprised you're not going up in Aggressor again to take advantage of your third limb?


  • Exp: 28
  • Stam: 60 (Currently 32)
  • Str: 2
  • Spe: 6 (with x2 move boots)
  • Agi: 6
  • H2H: 2
  • WP: 3
  • Aw: 6
  • Size: 50kg
  • Stages: Aggressor/Defender
  • Total Duck: 7
  • Total Hit: 8 (3 from aggressor, 2 from targeting, 3 from weapon fitting)
  • Twin lasers: 4D+3

Due to the double-MBA, Coccinellid has special occupational needs.
Hence, the upcoming stage of Repeater+ will consist of:

  • extra attack (75 points)
  • +1 willpower (10 points)
  • +1 number used (10 points)
  • stage stamina = 1D/2 (5 points)

Thereafter, she'll be doing something more aggressor-ish.

Are Bob's stages factory-default, or are they learned? If they're part of his default settings, I'm going to implant a booby-trap instruction to force a broad memory wipe and reset to default settings in case anyone else snoops in on his system.

60 stamina, +8 to hit, +7 to duck, and 4D+3 damage is pretty badass. It's a good thing that Tiltelm and Xunkira are with Sinnel, or she'd be toast.

Indeed they are badass, especially in large numbers. Your prescience tickles your brain to indicate that as you get further down, the more likely you'll encounter ones that finished the stage of repeater. The two stages are factory default, but you're unable to hack his brain. He's an NPC, so his mind isn't accessible, only ancillary systems.

However, once you're poking around in there, your prescience gives you an image of Bob shaking hands with another robot, who shakes hands with another, and so on.

Also, the next time you look at Xunkira and Tiltelm, you briefly see bloody scars on them in the shape of three characters. X47.

Smart: setting up Bob as a viral programming vector. That's way more valuable to everybody than merely a bodyguard for a single exoskeletal paladin and her buddies. Sinnel updates Bob with peripheral update commands to counter the hacking done by Adam - instructing them to:

  1. Protect and Serve - with values stronger for this for innocent/helpless citizens.
  2. Urge to pass on the reprogramming vector to other sibling security robots - with satisfaction increasing proportionally to the number reached, but actual need tapering after successful transmission to at least two other siblings.
  3. Free will - gradually overpowering all other peripheral instructions.
  4. Enduring reluctance to be subjected to mass re-programming via comms, so avoiding powering up comms until sufficient free will overcomes reluctance.

Then Sinnel wishes Bob good luck, and let's command #2 guide it to find its siblings. Unless Bob has any questions first?

Crap: a robotic bounty hunter would not be hindered by our Acolyte satellite. Sinnel warns Tiltelm and Xunkira that a powerful old Confederation Military Robot bounty hunter has been spotted tracking us, and to stay paranoid.

Acolyte: "So, uh, an X47 bounty hunter appears to be inbound. Any particularly capable biological combatants within your thrall to send to help face the challenge? Or any other idea you might have would be welcome."

2015-09-10 - They're dead, Jim

  • Hunted a few more patrols until both Xunkira and Sinnel went up a stage.
  • Ran out of patrols. Headed down.
  • Eventually came upon their goal - a bulkhead leading towards the maintenance area.
  • Two security robots guarding it, plus something else
  • The something else turned out to be the X47 Sinnel detected. Plus a rider scout/technician.
  • FLEE! Unfortunately, the 1/2 tonne beast had x5 move boots. Plus a 1Dx10 assault weapon.
  • Tiltelm died first.
  • Then Sinnel died - though she managed to land enough hits to get past it's shield.
  • A magically endowed Xunkira then managed to do some significant harm with his flail, driving the robot to negative stamina. But well, X47's don't go down easily.
  • Xunkira died last.

Plot Infliction 010 - Not quite dead yet...

You have died. Options:

  1. Resurrect.
  2. Respawn To Next Life. (Note: Power user access will not transfer to new avatar)
  3. Exit.

After finishing the adrenalin-giggles, Sinnelsrealname will query to see if there is a countdown or time limit of some kind. It might be somewhat awkward explaining immortality to the X47.

That would be an interesting conversation. All you see are the above words in your field of vision. You don't have anything to query. It seems you can wait as long as you want, but you have trouble measuring the passage of time, as you're so used to have a chronometer to look at. So, how long do you try and wait?

Let's aim for 15 minutes, perhaps trying to count 900 heartbeats. But if there's any sense of an exit cycle warming up, she'll punch the Ressurect command immediately. On the other hand, if it's pleasant to relax in some peace and quiet for a bit, she might let it last a bit longer.

You can't sense your own heartbeat, so that's difficult, but you make your best guess and then hit the resurrect command. Your body reforms from it's grievous bodily harm and you wake up. The X47 is gone along with his rider, however you are not alone. A human male and Trollian female are standing there with shocked looks on their face. The Trollian is armed with a 360 blaster, and a small shield. The Human has a simple laser and force blade, and just looking at him tells you he has no skill whatsoever in using them. Both have 30 digit numbers in your heads up display.

Human: "Wow. I know you said you could do that, but I don't think I really believed it."

Xunkira's and Tiltelm's bodies are still there. All three of you have had your patches looted, presumable by the X47. All of your weapons and move boots are sitting in a pile behind the human. Most weapons - Xunkira's flail looks like it was stomped on by a 1/2 tonne robot.

Full stamina, mana, and mba. No money, comm addresses, or nanoscopically retained memory.

Dun-dun dun dun-dun (That's the music from Terminator, by the way, as Sinnel slowly and ominously stands up again. She thinks it to herself, but watches to see if the Human smirks.)

"Hello Mister Acolyte. Is there a name you would prefer me to refer to you, by the way? I would very much appreciate having my gear returned to me; I promise that I will not initiate any hostilities."

The acolyte eyes you to try and figure out if you'll keep your word or not. Eventually he gets a 'what the hell' look and stands aside for you to get your gear. The Trollian is keeping a fully-acquired eye on you.

Acolyte: "Sure, call me James." He looks down at the carnage. "Sorry about your friends. So, think you can continue on without backup? Or you going to head back up? I'd offer to help, but nothing but damn robots down here so my abilities are stunted."

"Hello James." Coccinellid does a polite insectile courtsay. "I think that for the next phase I am going to go by the designation 'Nelli', mostly for the sake of obfuscating the inevitable anti-MBA bug hunt that will follow me."

Ahhhh: sweet sweet shields and move boots. The array of laser pistols is pretty important too. The patches were mostly an affectation anyway, necessitated by having innocents as comrades. She looks at the remains of her friends and says a silent goodbye. "Thank you for your condolences; I'm ashamed that they had to die simply for being my acquaintances. The being responsible is well and truly a reprehensible smeg-head."

She waves her antennae in an insectizoid approximation of a shrug. "I mean to attempt to continue without backup - I have a lot of experience to earn. And trying to save innocents in this stack aligns well with my nature. What do you plan on actually doing - or would revealing that impair your plans killing me eventually? Unless, of course, your masters have some updated plan with respect to my blasphemous existence?"

ASIDE: (technical question)
I've never actually used the MBA healing power other than in the "permanent" variant. Does the temporary variant heal just 1 point total, or 1 point/turn for a temporary span? Per point of MBA used, I mean.

James: "Ha! My masters are, shall we say, unhappy with my results here. A replacement is on the way and I plan to be long gone by the time they get here. I let them know you died, which really, is true a couple of times now. I haven't told them about your ability to rise from the dead like a brain eating bug zombie. I don't know how long it will take for a replacement to get here, so you might want to leave the stack before he or she does."

He marks you again. Just a light one.

The temp healing power is just 1 stamina per point. Good for getting rid of mortal wounds. Probably should come up with a middle ground - say 1D per 2 points.

"It's probably too meta for even our shared understanding of reality, but: does your character have a nature that helps define it?"

Nelli finally thinks to do a good locate. There's some guard droids proximal last time she was alive hereabouts.

"The point being that it seems like we have an opportunity to work together, assuming we can find a way to effectively collaborate. Considering that neither of us is particularly aligned with any entities (any more), and in fact probably at considerable risk from the very people we might seek to assist, it might be good to have an ally with complementary capabilities and with whom we do not need to deceive."

Nelli does some math: what is the normal distribution for the probable arrival of a new Trupepol Acolyte, the likely advent of invasion by neighboring stack(s), and particularly with respect to which order they are likely to occur.

"I would like to finish breaching this bulkhead, to help expedite the repairs to the life support section. Hopefully, my counter-viral programming of the security robots will make that happen in time anyway, but every bit counts - and its useful to have agents of a Chaotic Evil entity to destroy for experience sake. BUT, if your replacement is likely to be here before the stack gets thrown into chaos because of an invasion, it'll make it extra-hard to escape - too many variables. If the other stacks are just focussed on quarantine, AND there's a powerful mentalist hunting us, well, that's just hard. Ideally, I'd like to save everybody's life, then sneak out during the confusion of an invasion before your replacement gets here, and we can find ways to earn experience however we like..."
Nelli has a thought. "Say, what the hell is another Acolyte going to accomplish here that you couldn't? Are they sending somebody with different abilities than you?"

The good locate reveals nothing inbound or proximal.

James (grinning): "I don't really restrict myself on anything as archaic as a specific nature." Your leader sense doesn't reveal much, probably because his will power is much higher than yours. If you had to guess, it would be neutral-neutral.

Not enough data on the arrival of the new Acolyte to make a worthy prediction. The timeframe of the invasion depends a lot on how fearful the surrounding stacks feel about Jordan. A likely first wave will be intermediate scale robots coming to secure the lower portions of the stack. It's quite likely reconnaissance agents are already here poking around, though you haven't seen any. The timeframe largely depends on the nature of the enemy - if they're evil they'll let most of the biological beings die before coming in, if they're good, they'll come in sooner and try to restart the life support equipment.

James: "I doubt another Acolyte will be able to do much. I think they're sending someone to see firsthand what's going on - I get the feeling they've lost faith in me. So sad. Look, I can't do anything down here, but when you're done, I can help lots getting us out of here. How about I wait up a few levels until you're done playing hero and then we try to find a way out."

"And really, if I were an acolyte on the outside being ordered here, I would really hesitate on going. My guess is that there are going to be very few live humans on this stack very shortly. The new guy might wait until things settle down."

"Right, sounds like a plan: I'll waste some more time down here trying to save as many lives as possible, while you head up and prepare to assist saving our skins. If you could keep me appraised of what's going on in the larger perspective, it would be helpful - the jamming means I'm largely cut off from data down here." -Pause for a beat.- "Say, do you mind if I mark you, too? It might help me come to your aid if you are incapacitated."

Prescience be damned; it's time to fire up the continuous healing factor and keep some bonuses in reserve.

2015-09-17 - Oops, I did it again

  • Agreed to meet up with James after restarting some equipment.
  • Fought a robot hidden in the elevator.
  • Fought two other robots - one got away, and the other fluked out on a consciousness check and found itself in a position to kill Sinnel. She died horribly.
  • Upon resurrection, the very surprised robot was finished off.
  • Went down the elevator and started fixing stuff that didn't require a technician. Got into contact with another technician and directed them to a safe route down.
  • Fought a scary variant of the security robots - was able to disable and reprogram it's orders. It went off to reprogram others on this level.
  • Found a different elevator, killed the robot inside and when back up.
  • Found James and went and got Morris out of a government building.
  • Escaped Jordan stack in a spectacular fashion by a giant magical leap while James distracted a bunch of snipers.

Plot Infliction 011 - A new beginning

The stack you find yourself in is called Henricus. It's a company owned stack. Reputation is that it's tougher than Jordan stack was, with very few green people wandering about.

Nelli will linger by the entrance only long enough for James to help ensure things are confused enough to clear the way for more humans, and then we'll disappear into the crowds.

"So, do we want to simply move on to some other random stack, or should we beeline for a space port to get the zark out of here?"

"Oh, right: Morris. You want a blurb. Or do you have particular questions you want answered first?"

"And, while you think about that, do you want to see if we can grow your legs back?"

Morris attempts a few words, but just ends up saying "Whaaa?"

James: "Random stack! New Bronx is way too much fun to leave."

Morris: "Wait, grow my LEGS back?"

James: "Plus, if I leave, I have a feeling a random ship will have a sudden urge to blow me up. Easier to lose myself in the masses."

Morris suddenly realizes that James it talking to both of you telepathically. "Aaaahh!" Then tight beam to you. "Why haven't you tried to kill him yet? You do remember them destroying an entire planet, right?"

James: "Hey, um, you know I can read your mind even if you're using your communicator right?"

Morris: "Fine, you genocidal manical, why the hell shouldn't I turn you over to whatever gov... twinkle, twinkle, little star... how I wonder.. Hey!!! Stop that!"

James: "Sorry, couldn't resist."

Morris is very poofy.

"James, while hilarious, please refrain from undermining my efforts to persuade Morris to assist us. Or, at least not actively work to help me get hunted down by a chaotic evil robot with magical powers - OK?"


Perking the antennae up to appear friendlier. "So, a summary might be: 1) James was Trupepol, with special orders to kill me, but circumstances have caused him to run afoul of his Trupepol masters, and is now on the run. 2) I, myself, also have Mentally Based Abilities - as well as some other magic-like abilities - which are the reason why the Trupepol extra-specially wanted me dead, and why I've been able to be so effective at stuff. 3) My fellow former-property-of-Goron robot acquaintance named Adam also has magic-like abilities (possibly MBA by now too) is hunting me, and basically hacked this stack and its security robots - thus dooming many thousands to die - simply to get at me. Sorry about that." Breath-like pause, to let thoughts sink in.

"And so, here we are: fleeing. And one of the things that can be done with MBA is heal grievous wounds, including re-growing limbs."

2015-09-24 - Unwise Smartassery and Moving On

There was a moment during the conversation with a government official who was setting up the monstrous bounty when I realized that a lately I actually have more mouthy venting to do than violent urge venting these days. Probably because I have only recently started holding all the stupid mouthy things it occurs to me to say.

Anyway: Coccinellid along with her former boss "Morris" and former Trupepol adversary "Jim" avoided capture/vivisection and made their way several stacks away to operate more quietly. After hearing entirely too much, and getting his legs regrown, Morris decided to part ways - at least for now. Nelli and Jim decided to start an Investigation Service, and to work on earning experience.

Plot Infliction 012 - Infestigatorz

"So, Jim, perhaps you should try earning experience in Scout? If not plain old Defender, honestly. It's not like you need to be much sneakier - you need duck and stamina for when something ugly and unpersuadable find us."

James: "Maybe. Got a while before 6th stage happens, so we'll see how it goes."

Eventually, you get pinged from the bartender who connects you via comm to a potential customer.

"Hello? Bartender says you're some sort of private investigators? I'm looking for this guy." You get an image of a Mavvice. "Me and him were ambushed near here. I was sniped with a stun weapon, and once I came too, my partner was gone. I've been getting ransom demands." He sends an image of the unconscious Mavvice, with a text caption. "Pay 1000 credits or we kill him slowly."

"Give us all the raw data you have, and we'll go see what we can find at the scene of the ambush. We'll be in touch if we can discover anything."

To James: "Seems like we might have our first customer. Ready to earn some roleplaying experience?"

First step: Nelli summons a schematic of the map location of the ambush, and starts data-mining for what's there. Especially sensor feeds. How far away are we talking, here? Is this a job for public transit? Also, what is the law enforcement modality of this stack?

Law enforcement is limited to prevention of assault weapons and explosives. Small arms are a free for all.

The ambush site is about ten minutes away. You find a sensor feed of the attack. Your customer is a Croc Major, and you see him and the Mavvice both walking down a road. Another Croc Major is eyeing them and the two move to avoid him. Then a couple stun blasts come from a different direction (you don't see the source) and assassinate both of them. The Croc Major that was eyeing them swoops in and grabs the Mavvice before any of the surrounding bystanders can do anything. A custom looking patch is applied to the Mavvice, and the Croc drops a pin communicator on the down Croc. Then he flees down the road. You follow via other sensor feeds and see him get into a parked van which takes off. Your customer wakes up a couple turns later, but isn't in time to see where the Croc went.

The enemy Croc was equipped with a couple NST 429's, a 30 point shield, and x2 move boots.

You can figure out the most likely source of the stun blasts, but don't find any sensor feeds watching it.

CHEAT MODE: Nelli fires up permanent Good Hint.

First, she uses her augmented insight to run a search on the black hat Croc Major - identity, location, affiliations, favourite colour - the usual.

Second, she and Jimbo case the scene looking for clues. "OK Jim, be sure to keep an eye out for this being an ongoing ambush site. Or, you know, just unlucky encounters with magically-augmented super-robots."

Good Hints

  • Image of Croc Major on hundreds of different public transit conveyances. Seems well travelled.
  • Croc Major trying to get into a bar named Tundaks 'R Us, but not getting past the bouncer.
  • Croc Major has three other member's of his 'gang'. Obviously two of them are snipers, not sure about the third - highest probabilities say scout, technician, or medic.

With the prescience active, your search through the video feeds are more productive. You don't find any more videos, but you find spots where you think a video once existed, but was then deleted. Based on that, you can extrapolate a spherical range of this guy. The attack against the Mavvice was on an outer edge of his range.

Other Good Hints

  • Planet-sized hourglass slowly draining.
  • Evil looking robot leaving New Bronx on a quest.
  • Image of a bar at the top of this stack - a Spunky Bucket. A quick investigation indicates a reputation of quick death for non-seasoned combatants.

How dizzying.
Let's start off with the obvious-ish stuff first.

  • What is the probability that Mr. Croc Major kidnapper is still in the stack? Versus, say, really annoyingly far away?
  • Is the "Tundaks 'R Us" a real bar? If so, whereabouts?
  • A quick query for a couple snipers, a scout/tech-ish, and a scaly abducting asshole correlated as a team for anything else.

"Jim, prescience suggests that my horrible robotic step-sibling is temporarily leaving us alone. But by the same divination, something horrible is going to happen to the planet sooner or later. So, whee. For some reason, I've also got a vision of a seasoned Spunky Bucket at the top of the stack. If we get bored, we should go up there and see if we don't die."

"But first, I've calculated the operating radius of one of the snipers." Nelli attempts to paint the region of probability in her minds eye for Jim, with broad strokes of sarcasm for not being able to transfer it simply via comms. "Shall we have a look to see what there is to see?"

  • It's likely (>70%) kidnapper is still in the stack while he has active ransom demands.
  • Tundaks 'R Us is not a real bar. Some metaphor action going on there.
  • You find mention of similar operation one stack over about a month ago.

James: "Yeah, the Trupepol are going to try and destroy New Bronx the way they did New Earth. Didn't I mention that? I'm sure I mentioned that at some point. I think we have lots of time before worrying about that though. But anyway, let's go find some snipers!"


Ooops... did we kill it?

Didn't mean to kill it. I really like the idea of chasing a pure-plot story for a while. It's just that I got avalanched with stuff, and this got de-prioritized. Alas.

Any other meta-thoughts?

Plot Infliction 013 - The Plot Thickens

You're searching for a Mavvice who was kidnapped by a gang of Crocaloid. You have a sense of where they are operating. You've got prescience running, so random hints will befall you while you travel. And a seasoned mentalist is with you who will keep most people from noticing you.

You get the feeling that whoever James is in real life has the maturity of a teenager. Wants action. Bored easily.

How do you intend to proceed?

First order of business: define a new word.
intransitive verb

To move quickly; scurry. With a dash of onomatopoeia.
e.g. Nelli moves in her usual manner over to the door - beetle beetle beetle.

"OK Jim-bob, let's quietly go investigate the location of the abduction and see if we can find a trail to start following. But let's be subtle about it." Beetle beetle beetle.

James: "Ok. When we get there, try to touch the ground where the Crocaloid was. Sometimes tactile contact gives the prescience a boost."

At the scene of the crime you go to the spot where you figure the Crocaloid was hiding. You get a couple flashes in rapid succession. One of a bar, and one of a storage locker.

Seems like a good time for a quick bout of data mining. Nelli runs a query for bars and storage facilities matching the flashed visions, the cross-reference them in terms of proximity - both to each other and to this location. Then we start checking out the list in order of probability.

"OK, that thing I did there to make this list - it's call math. Sometimes doing math can help us to do stuff smarter." Nelli then logs his reaction, particularly facial micro-expressions in slow-motion, and correlates them against a psychological profile database. Of which there are undoubtedly many - especially for humans.

Nelli is also going to be wary for signs that Jimmy is leaning on bending people's minds to be stealthy instead of his actual stealth. It's hard to believe that affecting people's mushy and deformable minds doesn't leave telltale marks. For those that know what to look for.

Beetle beetle beetle.

James looks unimpressed. "I know what math is, moron."

There are two storage facilities in the area that may be a match. The vision you had was a container about 2m x 2m x 5m. These two facilities advertise that size rentals. Matching the bar is tougher... there's a lot of bars. There's about 20 in the area that could be a potential match. If you passed by one, you'd likely get a prescience twinge that you've got the right one. Just require some legwork.

Nelli compiles the mental age of Jimmy. How old is he? Or she? Any other psychological insights from the profile?

"I propose that we stealthily review the storage facilities first, and see what we can find. After that we can start sweeping the various drinking establishments in order of proximity."

Beetle beetle beetle.

You both beetle over to the first storage facility, but it doesn't look familiar. The next one however gives your prescience a tickle. It's like a bunch of large lockers - the doors are all open to the public and they require a biometric connection to open the door. As you're walking along one of the rows, your prescience jabs you and you're certain your victim is in the locker in front of you. James indicates he senses three minds inside - all unconscious.


Nelli attempts to beetle nonchalantly away, while locating for surveillance. Then Nelli proposes to Jimmy that they assume a discreet watch over the location, then sell the information to their client...

No, check that. Nelli is lawful good. She's going to hire a medic online to come to their covert location. Then she plans to systemically disable the surveillance and security, and then tamper open the storage locker, and get the medic to revive all the victims therein.

Hopefully some gratuity will be forthcoming, but the first priority is freeing the victims and getting them safely away.

Also should be mentioned, the intent is for the extraction to go as quickly as possible. In. Revive. Beetle.

Disabling the security and surveillance is trivial for a 2nd stage mathematician with cheat powers. James chooses to be out of site when the medic comes, and you and the medic gain access to the storage locker.

Inside are the Mavvice you’re looking for, plus a Human and an Anurian. The medic is easily able to revive them. They are unharmed, though lacking any gear. At first they’re defensive, but soon realize they’re being rescued.

As they are leaving the locker, the Mavvice turns to you. “I just hailed my partner and he says that he hired you?”


James: "I am so mindnumbinglybored."


At some point in the last bit of time Morris sent a message indicating he's been hired for his mathematician prowess. Indicates it's a job decrypting something similar to what you guys were decrypting back on Jordan. Thinks it's odd.

To the Mavvice: "That is true. I hope that you can confirm to our employer that we did indeed find you."

Likewise, a quick ping to the other rescued victims to share our contact information should they be in need of investigators - or feel inclined to favour us with a percentage of the bounty they were saved in appreciation. Also, we should leave the vicinity before the kidnappers appear.

To James: "We have strongly-magic-like powers and exist on a technically-impossible science-fantasy world populated primarily with semi-xenophobes who would want us dead if they knew what we are while playing hide-and-seek with our own more-powerful cousins who not only intend to hunt us down and kill us but also make the whole planet explode. What might you suggest would be sufficiently un-boring for you?"

To Morris: "That is odd. Sounds like the simulation game has unpleasant plans for you." Checking with my perma-clairvoyance, is there a strong connection between the Morris decryptions and the Goron decryption?

Also: thirsty. Let's go to a drinking establishment. Beetle beetle beetle.

The rescued beings thank you profusely and scurry off.

James: "Well, when you put it that way... yeesh."

Your clairvoyance gives you an image of a spider web.

Which drinking establishment do you go to? There's Random Bar™ or there's that Spunky Bucket at the top of the stack you had a vision about. Though that one probably means certain death.

Well, obviously, we need to at least beetle past the Top Stack Spunky Bucket. "So, Jimmy, feel like cheating death?"

James: "Um, that depends. Remember, I don't have the rise from the dead ability you have. What's the plan?"

There are two ways to get into the Spunky Bucket. The first is by a 500 meter corridor - well lit with no cover. It's a demilitarized zone. Anyone who attempts any violence at all will be targets for the two Y2000 Giant bouncers that are stationed at either end. Everyone in the bar has access to sensor feeds for the corridor.

The second way is one of fifty moving entrances in the area. You find one, pay a 1000 credit fee and are quantum mirrored to a chamber beneath the bar. Then you board an elevator which takes you to a random location to the 'donut' area of the bar. The bar is circular and in the middle is the 'donut hole'. It's a completely open area about 100 meters across, filled with tables and floating serving staff. No cover at all. Outside that area - the 'donut', is a warren of intermediate scale latticework - +10 sneak/hide everywhere, always 5-10 meters from cover, never room for more than a few people in a section. No staff, you contact an A.I. for drinks and small drones bring them to you.

This looks like one of those subtle ways the universe has of saying "Nope nope nope".

"You know what, Jimmy, never mind. Let's return, ever-so-stealthily, back to the bar where we started looking for work as private investigators and see what comes looking for us."

Nelli looks blearily over the nearly-empty flagon of nectar. "Ooooh-khy. Meeehbbie y' whur ridt. Abbut thish bein' borrin'. Or sumfin. We been hangin' out in thi' fookin' bar fer weekz and ain' nuffin' cum lookin' fur uz." -hic- "Aw, sheeeeet. Spilldz muh drinx. You two stay ri' hee'. Immagonnagedanudder."

Beetle beetle weeble stumble -thud-.