Drench and Echo Game

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Setting: AIF Classic™

Referee: RooK

Player(s): Dave - playing character

Plot -01 - Ancient History

In the time between Galactic Wars, the Confederation determined that it would be strategically valuable to have a well-staffed perimeter of the Inhabited Galaxies. The idea being that inter-galactic hordes of invaders could be denied ready access to resources after crossing the intergalactic void by having defensive forces present all along the rim.

In the unfashionable Western Spiral Arm of the First Galaxy, near the origin of the Confederation, this was not a problem. On the far reaches of the galaxy, however, it meant the development of locations that would leapfrog the natural progression of habitation. One such remote location was in the Achso System.

Two planets were in the Goldilocks Zone - Duso and Erso. Duso was a waterless baking rock with an atmosphere of poisonous levels of O2. Erso was a chilly planet, but already resplendent with a biosphere - and sentient inhabitants. The sentients were not native to Erso, strictly speaking, but instead the remains of a spacefaring species that had long lost the technology required for spacefaring. They were called Enaians, beaked humanoids with considerable variability of physical parameters, and had global government of a largely agrarian society.

The Confederation had learned that large scale warfare required large scale industry, which required large scale economies, which required large scale populations. So the Confederation proposed the benefits of joining - and allowing Erso to be turned into a city planet. The Enaians politely refused.

The principles of the Confederation required them to honour that refusal. So instead they requested being able to build a temporary garrison on Erso in exchange for access to nanoscopic robotic technology and access to interstellar trade. The Enaians couldn't quite resist.

So the Confederation built their tastefully inoffensive garrison, which they promised they would leave behind as an Enaian-controlled spaceport after a century. Meanwhile, the Confederation ripped the outer H2 layer off of Sieso (a nearby gas giant in the Achso system) and dragged it over to Duso's gravity well. The first stage of a massive terraforming effort. The resulting continuous global rain would last for centuries, but the large-scale building on Duso started almost immediately after the atmosphere had been made breathable to most biologicals. Enormous construction machines started 3D-printing the fundamental structures for the city-planet to come.

Much time passed, and things progessed very slowly. Building a city-planet from scratch so far away from major populations made its completion less urgent than other, similar projects. Then the conflict with the Trupepol changed everything very quickly.

When the core Confederation forces decamped, they took all tactically-significant equipment with them (including the only fold space portal), and left most of the garrison personnel behind. Likewise the major contractors pulled out of the construction, but left behind their workers on the planet. For all those left in the Achso System, the bits of news they did manage to get painted stories of terrifying Daemons and violent new kingdoms struggling for power as galactic civilization was torn apart.

Plot 00 - Fuzzy, Poorly-Documented History

What little is known about the time in the Achso System after the fall of Confederation is fragmented glimpses compiled from diverse and limited personal viewpoints.

Things on Erso got ugly. The stranded military personnel fragmented into factions, each with ambitions for making themselves secure - both from existential threats outside the system, and from their peers. Their initial confrontations were blunted by being able to separate physically from each other, by consuming the nigh helpless Enaian civilization's resources. But this just made their inevitable confrontations all the more terrible by having had time to prepare.

This ground on for over a decade, with conflict regularly roiling over the sphere in ever-reduced levels of capability. This was suddenly halted by the arrival of a crew of terraformers, who quickly established dominance by dropping rocks from orbit. A new global peace, of sorts, descended over Erso. Sadly, for most people, it was a brutally feudal system, and life was not much improved.

At some point, perhaps due to an internal struggle for power, the orbiting palace disappeared in a brilliant flash. The local governors became the natural array of leaders, and another cycle of paranoid competition began.

By this point, Erso had become more commonly referred to as "Echo". Partially due to an ancient phonetic alphabet designation that the Confederation had used, but mostly for sardonic reasons.

Meanwhile, Duso had long been referred to by the construction workers on its surface as "Drench". Those isolated teams of workers stranded in unfinished stacks were not combatants - they were scientists and technicians. They transformed their local incomplete architecture into safe bases and habitats. Surrounded by resources, and possessing ever-honed skills, they turned Drench into a utopia. A sparsely populated utopia.

The collective on Drench determined that the rest of the galaxy was still too dangerous to have large scale interaction with. And while they were unable to sustain a larger economy, they would remain vulnerable. So they did not attract the attention of any other systems or governments. But instead looked to see what they could do to help their neighbours on Echo - a potential large population to civilize and develop sufficient economic power to be safe.

So, obviously, they sent beer.

Plot 01 - Introduction

The Drench Collective understood that any overt contact would be met with extreme suspicion and hostility by the nations of Echo. There was literally no reasoning with anybody. So instead they decided to just simply deliver beer. When questioned about what they wanted, they said that they didn't want anything - just that they had made it a global hobby to make great beer. But there simply weren't enough people on Drench to drink it. So... here. Have some beer.

The beer was analyzed and tested with every paranoid experiment they could conceive of. But it was just beer. Extremely delicious beer.

At first the bars the Drenchers set up were mostly empty, as every Echoean feared it was a trap. Or a trick. Or something horrible, because horrible things were the norm. Competing Echoean beers weren't as good - or good at all, really. So the Echoean bars started serving the wonderful Drench beer - but actually charged for it, because they could. Eventually people became less scared, and started getting the good stuff for free directly from the Drencher bars.

Frequently the Drencher barkeeps would be assaulted, or killed if they couldn't get behind shields. But that mostly just interrupted the local supply of good Drench beer, so that tendency faded away.

Slowly, slowly, slowly, the general population started to chill the fuck out. It didn't make the governments any less tyrannical, or the horrors of territorial conflict disappear. But it did mean that for people who weren't paranoid, or sociopathic, or extremely interesting (to their Creator) could potentially keep away from warzones and abide by the instructions of the occasionally-brutal police.

Throg is the offspring of a Drencher barkeep and her ex-military Echoean wife.

Throg (and Throg's Drench mom) were trained as Defenders by Throg's Echo mom. Echo mom also also trained Throg as a leader. Oddly, they didn't actually expect Throg to develop MBA, and have instilled in him a clear understanding of how dangerous it might be for anybody outside the family to learn about it.

Echo mom was a colonel in the military of a nation that no longer exists, and never talks about how much ass she kicked. But, based on the number of combatants that come to pay their respects - or, occasionally, try to kill her - it was some significant ass kicking.

Drench mom can basically do anything. She's a scientist, a technician, a medic, a diplomat, and a defender.

The family bar, The Chameleon, is a stand-alone building of extremely simple design. Built originally as a warehouse about a century earlier, it features mostly concrete construction with simple slab-based features. In addition to its large front door, it can also roll open what used to be the loading bay doors to let in extra fresh air. The roof can act as a landing pad for the regular beer and supplies shuttle delivery. In one of the back rooms is a warm rock for sleeping on, next to the vacuum-capable hopper that Drench mom secretly built before Throg was gestated and never used.

Drench mom: "Good morning Throg. The supply shuttle is here. Please go up to the roof and ask the pilot if you can be of assistance."

Which is odd, because Clarke - your regular Drencher delivery shuttle pilot - has never needed any assistance before.

Awesome. That must mean extra beer! I head on up.

The pilot is not Clarke, but instead an expressionless Felinid. Expressionless, except for having to tilt its head waaay up to regard Throg. "They did make you tall, didn't they." Not a question. It continues regarding Throg, then asks, "Is it time for you to start helping?"

I stare down at the little furball. "I guess that depends on what you want help with."

Drench mom via comm: "It's not Clarke, but some smart-ass mammal." I send a quick visual. "Is that who you were expecting?"

Drench mom: "Let's just say that it's an older code, but it checks out."

The smart-ass mammal replies evenly. "It's not so much what I want help with, and more to do with how you want to help. I'm just your ride to Drench so you can try to figure that out." SAM gestures to the passenger position invitingly.

Drench mom: "Y'know, this would have been a lot less awkward if you had explained things to me before sending me to the roof. Does other-mom know about this?"

Despite being green, I still have a stage of leader. So I try to get a feel for the Felinid - Professional? Seasoned? Nature? Trustworthy?

Also, there's the question of gear. I assume I don't walk around all the time with all of my gear if I have any. If I have any, I should probably go collect it before leaving planet.

Drench mom: "One would think that you would know by now that making you feel awkward is my primary parenting modality. And you should know that your other mom doesn't get left in the dark about anything. Ever."

SAM is definitely seasoned overall, including being a professional Scout. Probably a stage or two of Defender. And some special sauce. SAM's nature appears to be deeply neutral. Trustworthy is not really the vibe you get (separate from any MBA vibe you might bring to bear at some point). More like, reliable but not to be crossed.

The question of gear is closely tied to the fortunes of a business that is fundamentally based on importing beer and giving it away for free. Drench mom tends to make anything that is needed, but those anythings tend to be communal and not really Throg's to wander off with. Throg's exceptionally thick hide and lack of external gender differentiation means that he has little need for clothing. Even Throg's paranoia-level government ID is an internal nanoscopic robot construct. He literally has nothing to fetch for going on a voyage.

Well I've always wanted to visit Drench. I smile toothily at SAM and hop into the shuttle.

SAM: "What do you know about flying a ship?"

A moment to read Throg's expression informs SAM that Throg has never even been in a ship before.

"Ah. Well, this is probably a good opportunity for some familiarization, so that if ever a situation arises you don't have to figure it out from scratch."

SAM proceeds to explain the controls, both in specific to the shuttle and in general to how they extrapolate to general control systems universally. Throg is coaxed into gingerly lifting the shuttle off the landing pad of The Chameleon, then how to fly through atmosphere smoothly, followed by a lesson in orbital mechanics. Then there's a less-exciting stint at higher acceleration through void to flit to Drench, but SAM fills it with instruction about the nuances of relativistic and superluminal travel. The lesson in orbital mechanics is reversed for the approach to Drench. Then Throg is shown the tips and tricks of flying with limited sensor effectiveness as he has to navigate the shuttle through the continuous downpour of the atmosphere of Drench. Finally, Throg gets to try his hand at manually controlling a landing at the coordinates SAM indicates - he does OK.

Any non-navigational conversation is politely ignored or cleverly re-directed into the matters at hand with a deftness that Throg would only notice in hindsight. Mind you, getting to pilot an interplanetary spacecraft for the first time is pretty fun, so it's understandable that Throg's attention would be focussed on that.

SAM: "All right, here we are. Head over to the doors at the edge of the landing area - " SAM indicates with gestures and tightbeams a coordinate. "And the robots should be waiting to direct you appropriately."

The shuttle door yawns expectantly.

50 meters away, barely visible with passive vision through the hissing rain, sits a heavy set of sleek doors. Probably access to some sort of elevator, as Throg has the sense that he landed atop of a huge structure of some sort.

I exit the shuttle and breath deep the air of a new planet. I also mentalist mark a portion of the shuttle as far away from the cockpit/SAM as possible as sneakily as possible. Then I say bye and head to the doors.

It's raining so hard that it's almost problematic for breathing, requiring a brief downward cast of the head to shield your nostrils from the deluge to allow for a deep breath. It smells... new.

At about the halfway point to the doors, they start to iris open to reveal an illuminated interior. And the shuttle takes off and heads smoothly away.

A spindly robot appears inside the doorway. "It still seems unnecessary to me to have people walk through the drench when we have perfectly serviceable covered landing bay. Tradition, I suppose. My name is Essen-Obie, personal cybernetic relations. I have been assigned to be your protocol assistant. I'm fluent in several forms of communication. Please come this way, and I can take you to a dormitory, or a kitchen, to a communications vestibule, or lead you to a transportation hub."

"Nice to meet you Obie. How about we visit all of them. A quick tour to get my bearings would be helpful. Plus, if you can fill me in on what my expected purpose is here, that would be good. Things have happened quite suddenly."

SN-OB: "Certainly sir." Once Throg is in the elevator car, the robot starts it downward - about 40 levels. "I'm not sure you have an expected purpose sir. Rather, I believe that you're here to discover what you might want to do, and if there's any way that the Drench Collective can assist insofar as it aligns with the Collective's purposes."

The elevator comes to a stop much earlier than one might expect, since the speed of the descent was masked by seamless gravitic controls. The doors part to reveal a combination of park and apartment complex. All completely empty. "Would you care to investigate some of the dormitory rooms, sir? I believe that there are some scaled to suit you. Otherwise, we can continue downward to the kitchen level for your orientation."

"Nah, I can find a room later. Not like I have heaps of luggage to drop off. Let's head down to the kitchen."

On the way, I do a quick check to see what computer networks I have access to with my comm.

The kitchen is even more fantastic and sad. It's designed to house every ilk of food preparation and serving. Places for elaborate gardens separate various industrial scale gourmet operations and fast food stands and personal preparation areas. The only thing online is a simple gruel dispenser.

There are two data networks available. One is a giant bandwidth public share connection... that's mostly empty except for some maps and a hopefully ironic weather forecast. The other is a securely encrypted system of unknown parameters.

"So OB, is there a betting pool as to how long it takes new guys to ask where everyone is?"

I check the maps to see if there's anything on them that might indicate population density.

OB: "The first phase is to check for escapists an radical introverts - people who see the space as an escape from the poverty and crowding of Echo, and who would just want to stay here, untroubled. That's who mostly live in this stack. Unless they get annoyed with occasional newcomers, and relocate to a different stack. Also the locals probably set their personal telemetry to private when they got a look at you."

The map defaults to the local stack, but can be reconfigured to search globally. Most of the population seems to live on elaborate estates separate from the pattern of stack.

OB: "If I may suggest, sir, you can address the Collective any time you wish. Precedence is nominally given to those physically located at the Discourse Node. But, since there is nobody currently there, it might be redundant. I know that many among the Collective are eager to talk with you, but my experience is that most people raised on Echo are unaccustomed to the degree of patience that is typical of people raised on Drench."

Indeed, an unobtrusive feature tucked into the public network is labeled "Collective".

OB: "Well, I can be fairly patient. Just not when everything is new and exciting. So is there an exercise or training room somewhere?"

I access the Collective. "Hello? Newbie here. Anyone online?"

OB: "There are a variety of multi-purpose rooms that can be configured to suit most needs. Is there anything in particular that you wish to do?"

COLLECTIVE: "Processing. Please be aware that all responses are the result of AI mediated gestalt conversations between participating members of the Collective. Which is why we're always so zarking wordy."

OB: "I've had some training as a defender. I'd like to continue training myself. Plus maybe training others."

OB: "We could certainly find you some space to practice... defending. Is there any particular equipment that you require for that? The training of others would involve others agreeing to be trained. I am sure that given sufficient social interactions that you could develop an interpersonal network to support such associations."

COLLECTIVE: "The Echo Initiative program that brought you here would have proposed you because either they thought you were a benevolent entity who was in danger of being persecuted, or that you were a being that had potential to help further civilize society on Echo. Which category do you think you are in?"

OB: "Dunno. I'm sure I'll find something. Anywhere else you want to show me?"

COLLECTIVE: "I would guess the later, only because I don't think I was in danger of being persecuted."

OB: "My function is to help facilitate your interests while you are on Drench. If you would rather do without the presence of my physical chassis, I can still function via the public communication network to share any information you may need. My cultural database suggests that many individuals are made to feel suitably respected by having an entity dedicated to attending to them."

COLLECTIVE: "Bitchin'. While you are welcome to stay on Drench, and make whatever sort of life you like on our quiet planet, we would hope that you intend to go back to Echo and have adventures. Specifically, we would like to support you to perform investigations. These investigations are not meant as espionage for Drench, but rather just to help illuminate and make public whatever convolutions of corruption and totalitarianism that continue to strangle Echo and prevent it from making social and economic progress."

"Even though Drench has no interest in thwarting any government or governments on Echo, we do feel it justified in aiding others in bypassing some of their limitations in the interests of civilization. These aids are:

  • alternate ID signatures that you use interchangeably
  • access to safe rooms and clandestine communications available at most Drencher bars
  • non-violent extraction from the planet with an hour's notice for you or someone you wish to nominate

There are limitations on all of these, mostly in the interests of not causing Echoean officials any reason to be concerned about Drench or Drencher bars."

"What are your thoughts?"

COLLECTIVE: "Seems equitable. I was thinking of offering Defender training services back on Echo. That may get me involved in local intrigue. So are you thinking I'd just report back here periodically and let you know how things are going?"

COLLECTIVE: "Teaching self-defense sounds like a very commendable way to contribute to society, and definitely a possible path to access to people who need defending. We usually have to counsel adventurous individuals to avoid being too aggressive, as there is very limited opportunity to contribute to society if imprisoned or executed. It seems that you might be exceptionally well-aligned with our philosophical goals."

"You are welcome to return to Drench as frequently as you wish to consult with us. Or you can conduct correspondence with us via beer shuttle pilots, should you be interested in our insights or suggestions. Or you could interact solely with Drencher barkeeps, who are our active agents of the Echo Initiate program. Or you need never hear from us again, if you ask to be left alone."

OB looks around awkwardly. "Does your sudden silence mean that you would indeed wish for me to leave your physical proximity? I could arrange for an alternate robot chassis, if you would prefer." A thought seems to come to him. "Or, I suppose a different robot entirely can be arranged, with a different mix of personality traits." Which means, of course, that he has now talked himself into being even more confused about what he should be doing.

OB: "Sorry OB, I was chatting with the collective. You're fine. Please continue the tour."

Collective: "Awesome. Well, as this is my first time off world, I think I'll explore some before going back to Echo. When I'm ready to go, do I just find that shuttle again?"

OB straightens brightly, either extremely relieved or cunningly programmed to simulate it histrionically. "Very good sir. May I suggest we head to a communication vestibule and you can see how it works as a Discourse Node? Then perhaps we can review transportation options for longer-distance travel."

COLLECTIVE: "Please feel free to explore for as long as you like. Be aware that many of the well-established Drencher estates may be unwelcoming to strangers. When the time comes to return to Echo, if there is a particular location on Echo you wish to return to then we would coordinate with one of our more discreet pilots. Otherwise we have fairly regular beer supply shuttle deliveries you can quietly catch a ride with. We would suggest that you do not return to the vicinity of your parents' bar, as your activity would endanger their mission, and could create complications for you to act anonymously, or could tempt others to try to use them as leverage against your efforts."

OB: "Sure. Sounds good. Let's go."

COLLECTIVE: "My parents have a mission? The things you learn... Unfortunately I don't really know much about other areas of Echo. Is there an area of the planet of similar stability as where I'm from? Don't feel like I can enter a conflict zone just yet."

The communication thingiemabobbler is very aesthetically pleasing, for being a combination of stage and interrogation booth. And is utterly unnecessary. It is clearly meant to be a method of political theater for an engaged population... who have nothing better to do.

The transportation hub is daunting and depressing. There's room for small cruisers and sizeable freighters to dock, as well as cleverly interwoven mass transit, bulk hauling, and general vehicle access. It's disturbingly still.

COLLECTIVE: "The region of Echo you are from is part of one of the middle-powered kingdoms (Beesee), and being surrounded by farming and mining communities is about as quiet as Echo gets. Except for the wilds in-between kingdoms, but then you have to contend with utter lawlessness when encountering others. The cities have more activity, economically and politically, which attracts corruption. The most powerful kingdom, Ohenn, clings to the old Confederation garrison, and is the clear hub of planetary power. The border settlements of the kingdoms have their own petty squabbles and paranoia, often housing elements conducting illegal forays into the neighboring kingdom. We're sure we can find some place that will suit your interests."

2016.06.16 - Return To Echo

  • heads from Drench to Echo --> Embee capitol city
  • Biddy McGraw's Drencher bar (Biddy being a reptiloid of less-than-average social skills for a barkeep)
  • attempted mugging - meets Oxford, a Zygroten farm boy looking to train as a technician
  • discovers an Echo basement bar - My Pet Coelacanth
  • dancing bar brawl with 8 goofs
  • potentially lines up a gig as a bouncer - 1 credit per 4-hour shift
    • Carl = Hylosus cooler / medic
    • Gus = Trolian bartender
    • Rufus = de-spined Massetin, rough bouncer

Plot 02 - My Pet Coelacanth

Oxford: "Shit, did you know that they implant your ID right into your wrist? Gosh darn unnerving to have a non-native set of nanoscopic robots set up inside my body, I tell you what."

"Yeah, unpleasant. Hope they didn't include the special flesh eating bonus they sometimes saddle noobs with. Anyway, it looks like I've landed a job at a bar. If you're interested in any defender training while you're fiddling with your tech stuff, I can watch your back."

I send him coordinates of the bar and I continue to hang out there. I forget the particulars on the job - did they give me a schedule or anything?

It's possible that I'm going to extrapolate "continue to hang out there" too far. Luckily, I'm omnipotent.

Oxford shows up, and regards My Pet Coelacanth as something fundamentally alien - and immediately takes a liking to it. His enthusiasm is rather unguarded, which charms him to some of the surly regulars patronizing the bar. Who, as a class, are mostly green parasites of the grungy stim-dealers who sometimes stake out the place for discussing business. That, and nihilists who seek temporary oblivion in the endless rhythms of the dance music.

As it turns out, MPC is a bit understaffed, and Throg is soon picking up sequences of shifts to help out. Oxford enrolls in a local technical school, and spends much of his study and leisure time at MPC. In an effort to appear cool to his peers, he also introduces a key group of Cool Kids™. They also declare MPC to be Cool™, and the dance bar goes from being understaffed to being crazy. Any time Throg wants to help out, they're happy to have him. The work mostly consists of being tall, scowling at problematic activity until it feels awkward enough to stop, occasionally physically separating people, and listening to a whole lot of small talk.

The students seem to be comprised of those interested in dancing, those interested in scoring some stims, those trying to connect in some social way, those trying to connect in some strategic way, and people dragged along against their will and not really knowing why they're there. The last group are the most interesting to talk to. They don't talk much.

Mmmm... scowling. Sounds fun. While chatting with the Cool Kids™, I keep track of those that might be interesting in starting a 'Defender Club' where they make a bunch of stun weapons and we all shoot at each other a lot while I train them in the art of duck-fu. If I can accumulate a group of at least 10 who are serious, I start looking for a place to house our activities. Also, I check out what permits are required to carry a stun weapon.

Getting a permit to carry a stun weapon is not onerous in Embee, but it does require getting a license and registering the weapon with the government.

There are exactly three people currently interested in Defender Club: Oxford, a Felinid medic student named Jeanetta, and a lurker errand-lizard named Rakkaraka. Gus lets you use the store room, as long as you clean up afterward and don't wreck anything.

Is Oxford capable of making any kind of weapon? Even a projectile pistol with rubber bullets would do. Or, we could simply use hand to hand.

Oxford is, to use a technical term, a goodie-goodie. He's interested in learning to defend himself, but quite reluctant to make any weapons.

That being said, you don't need them for training. Thrown objects can be perfectly suitable substitute range weapons, if that's what Throg's after. Just don't throw any 600 kg objects at your students.

2016.06.23 - Lazarev Incident

  • Victor Lazarev's son dies in My Pet Coelacanth
  • Crooked cops show up
    • Carl, Gus, Rufus, and Throg decide to flee before anyone more scary shows up
    • Rufus runs interference while Carl, Gus, and Throg run for the back
  • Throg doubles back after getting a mortal wound to get a patch from the Staff Closet
    • Discovers that he's been left behind, checks the body
    • Gets caught rifling the body by Victor Lazarev himself - he was extremely displeased, and demonstrated it by shooting Throg repeatedly
    • Throg finally sneaks away
  • Holes up at a depressing Echoean bar
  • Oxford gets messily dismembered by Officer MORT, a very nasty crooked cop, to attempt to get Throg to surrender
  • Decides to exfiltrate via Biddy McGraw's, but gets spotted by an informant watching the bar
    • Three low-level goons arrive to kill Throg
    • Throg dances, absorbing for more blasts than would be seemly, then throws their hoverbikes in a dumpster and escapes on one.

Plot 03 - On The Lamb: Part 1

600 kg Reptiloid on a 200 kg hover bike tends to stand out. How far / long do you ride?

Not long. I mark the bike, and then as soon as I see a public transport hub of any kind, I'll park it and then hop on a bus/train/whatever.

Buses are the primary format of public transit in Winnipeg. They exist as private enterprises, with somewhat ad-hoc routes. They are popular for travelling about the city, as personal vehicle ownership is somewhat more expensive than most people can afford.

Hopping onto the nearest available bus ensures a suitably random direction, which should confound tracking. Not to mention that the last description they had of Throg was of a badly-injured Reptiloid near death, and currently Throg appears unscathed. To further help obscure Throg's trail, after about 20 minutes of being on the bus he senses that the hoverbike's mark is now moving in several different directions simultaneously.

Nobody on the bus gives Throg a second look.

The id that the Drenchers gave me... can I change it so that I can still be a resident of MB but different than the original one I was using?

The modifiable ID can have whatever parameters Throg wishes to try - but it generally has to be configured at a Drencher bar.

Well, I think it will be a few days before I try going back to a Drencher bar. I'll stop and get some simple clothing (lot's of pockets for patches), sell the med pack, and go hang out at a café.

Laying low is extremely easy with the cultural-standard trenchcoat-like clothing¹. Throg blends in with the 99% who all don't want to be noticed, and manages to successfully over-caffeinate in a series of cafés that are pleasant to hang out in.

¹ Which, technically, have a shit-tonne² of pockets.

² That's metric.

2016.06.30 - Aggressive Defense

  • New Drencher bar: Greven Station
  • Jerk Bouncer: St. John - tall croc major
  • Uppity Gang brought an amusing bout of fisticuffs
  • Throg trained as an Aggressive Defender
  • Uppity Gang scout sent in to Greven Station recognizes Throg - police arrive forthwith
  • BAD cop kills partner in Greven Station to frame Throg
  • Throg successfully evades BAD cop after more entertaining conflict
  • Throg finishes next stage: Aggressive Defender
    • Stamina +9
    • Duck +4
    • Parry +4
    • Defenses now capable of being "aggressive"

Plot 04 - On The Lamb: Part 2

Despite being homeless and jobless, a certain purposefulness is present in Throg's motions thanks to becoming Professional. Where to now?

First thing is to head to the outskirts of the city. Far enough away to reset my id.

Getting transportation to the suburbs of Winnipeg should be relatively straightforward and low-risk, but would fall short of the total distance required to achieve the ID reset. Throg could simply walk the remainder, either out along highways or strike off through the surrounding farmlands. Or Throg could obtain inter-city transport, which leaves from either the hoverbus depot or the mag-lev train station near downtown Winnipeg.

They may be watching the depot or train station. Plus, I want to explore. I'll head to the suburbs and then wander through farmlands.

Skulking through mostly-empty fields is a great way to avoid people. The boundaries between farms are generally demarked by low crude walls of stone and ruins of war machines. The tromping reveals that not much excitement has happened in this region for a few years. The required distance for updating the ID is achieved and Throg gets to be somebody else.

2016.07.13 - Vigilante

  • new name: Rohaimi
  • wanders back into Winnipeg, searches SW district police HQ for bent hopper (no joy)
  • random encounter: 4 gang patrollers - fucks with them, they flee all confused
  • heads to NE
  • stim addict mugger - fended off until police arrest him
  • encounters a trio of neighborhood watch (near drencher bar Fiddler's)
    • after clarifying his nature, Throg/Rohaimi aligns with the watch for the time being
  • one of the gangs claiming the territory send a hit team of Trops to kill the watch - they are thwarted
    • one member of the Trop hit team is captured, he is incapacitated awaiting the police to be summoned
    • watch leader plans to turn in the captive Trop alone, Throg/Rohaimi and the rest of the watch lie low at Fiddler's

Plot 05 - Neighborhood Watch

number-3 (henceforth a reptiloid known as "Trey"): "I almost had him! I almost had that other guy!"

number-2 (Felinid medic, "Doos"): "Yeah, you definitely clocked him in a way he won't forget. Now hold still, so that I can work on the leg wound before you accidentally tear open your femoral artery and bleed out."

A tall insectizoid brings a brace of frosty beer-filled mugs to the table. "You guys hungry? Boss says you get a meal on the house." Her antennae flicks at the bar, where a massive chitin-armoured barkeep daintily washes a large mug that looks like a thimble clamped in a gigantic claw.

I order a large helping of the meat-of-the-day and pass on my gratitude to the boss.

"That was an awesome fight. And we managed to get one of them arrested. Hope [insert name of #1] doesn't have any trouble with the cops."

Doos: "Ewnoh (small hylosus #1) does tend to have some occasional trouble with police, but that's mostly his own fault. He assumes that all police are lawful, and gets problematic if they act less-than-above-board."

Trey: "Whatever. His wife will just have to bail him out again if he refuses to pay a bribe, or whatever it is."

Doos: "Maybe so. In the old days, back just after the wars, police might have just executed him for not complying. I hope that things don't regress back to that."

The massive barkeep tighbeams Throg. "Are you Throg?"

"Yeah, executions suck. So, those Trops that got away. Think they'll be back?"

I don't give any outward indication that I got hailed or am talking to anyone else. I reply to the bartender: "Yup. Though I'm going by 'Rohaimi' now."

Trey: "Nah, that one I thwacked looked good and scared."

Doos gives Trey a look, then gives Throg a look. "Doesn't matter if those particular Trops come back. I think we're still in the way of their gang. A better question is whether we have qualified for the attention of scarier Trops. Having a neighborhood watch made sense when our tactic was to make it too much of a pain in the ass to operate here. But since they sent in an actual, targeted hit, maybe we should lay low."

Barkeep (comm tagged as "Fiddler"): "Ah, so. Well, the local darknet has a message pending for you." A file gets forwarded to Throg, apparently encrypted to Throg ID#2.

Ewnoh strolls into the Drencher bar. "Done, and done. Police were only too happy to take the gang banger to prison with my edited sensor feed as evidence. Hey, is that beer?"

Tall Insectizoid server plants a new mug in front of Ewnoh. "Indeed it is." A heaping platter of seasoned raw meat goes in front of Throg, a smaller bowl of the same for Doos, and some writhing grubs try to escape Trey's plate.

Ewnoh's eye glisten with joy. "Can I have my usual?"

Antennae bob affirmatively. "Slop, on the house."

Fiddler: "Local darknet? Is that the Drencher network, or something else?" Can I use my id to decrypt it? Even though the Throg ID#2 was replaced?

Ewnoh: "We were just discussing what the gang is likely to do next. Might try another crack at you."

Fiddler: "It's the technically-illegal secret communication network between bars. The government occasionally tries to disrupt it, but since it parallels many similar networks run by powerful entities they are restrained from being too effective about it. Besides, how do you outlaw gossip?"

All of Throg's ID's are available to him, interchangeably. Decrypting the message, it's revealed to be from Rakkaraka. "Hey Throg. You still alive? Stories say that you're dead, but nobody can confirm it. Lazarev has put a bigly big bounty on finding your corpse. Something about wanting to line his son's coffin with your hide. Anyway, watch out for a bad cop named MORT. He's a Groten, and hard to miss. But he's good at tracking people down."

Ewnoh: "Whelp, certainly seems like they've got egg on their face. And they don't much care for that, so I expect normally they'd have it out for me. But you never know - that other gang might distract them."

"Another gang? Maybe they'll just beat on each other and leave us alone. So, I don't know if you noticed, but I was able to get those guys to shoot at each other. That wasn't just a fluke - someone taught me how to do that a while ago. I might be able to teach you if you're interested. I don't think I can stay in the area long though - I've got someone after me and don't want to stay in one place for too long."

Ewnoh: "Yeah, there are two gangs that claim this territory. That's why there's so much trouble here."

Doos: "You can make people shoot each other? Is it... some kind of mental trick? Like... hypnosis?"

Trey: "They were definitely shooting each other, but it didn't look like they meant to be shooting each other. Big lizard was just always standing in-between them and then suddenly moving out of the way - sort of thing." Trey exchanges glances with Doos. "Or maybe there was something in his eyes - he was awfully concentrate-y."

Ewnoh: "Concentrating is part of ducking, dumbass."

"Nah, no hypnosis or anything like that. It's all in the positioning. Trey had it right, I just trick them into shooting where I want them to by putting myself in the right spot and then moving. It's take a lot of awareness though, so it helps being already some scout or defender."

Ewnoh: "Sounds interesting." He clearly rummages through some deeply porcine thoughts. "So, who's after you? What do they want you for?"

2016.07.21 - Dance, Furries, Dance

Waiting impatiently in Fiddler's Drencher Bar, Throg/Rohaimi gets healed by a nervous Doos while Ewnoh and Trey resume watching the neighborhood. Rohaimi probes Doos's mind mentally, and discovers that Doos is also a mentalist. Being discovered freaks Doos out, because Echoean (and Drencher) society are deeply paranoid about Trupepol. This is extrapolated to all mentalists, and is revealed to Rohaimi why there's no Humans about - they were all killed out of paranoia.

Trying to defuse the sudden tension, Rohaimi suggests that they head back out to be with the rest of the neighborhood watch. Tension escalates anyway, in the form of 20 Banded Band combatants arriving and setting up a perimeter around the central blocks of the neighborhood. The neighborhood watch escapes the street, along with all the civilians. Ewnoh and Rohaimi are the last to slink away, and hole up in Fiddler's.

Then Rohaimi has the sudden urge to head out and to engage the gang in reasoned discourse to convince them to give up their needlessly violent path and to just leave peacefully.

Except, you know, not really.

The mostly-green occupying force were arranged in extremely logical defensive positions - for an external assault. Rohaimi wandered into the theoretically-worst place to be, the cover-free nexus of the main intersection, and goaded them into attacking. In such a circumstance, the Aggressive Defense techniques are devastating, able to use the numbers and aggression of the attackers against themselves. In scarcely 7 turns, the entire occupying force was shredded from within and with only 4 members able to flee under their own power.

It should be noted that Rohaimi clearly demonstrated that he is neither "good" nor "merciful".

Feeling probably more than a little smug, Rohaimi then heard the sounds of slow, possibly-mocking clapping. It was coming from a lone Trop armed with an assault weapon, who claimed to have been sent to attack the defending Banded Band gang members here, and thanked Rohaimi for doing his work for him.

Plot 06 - Poignant Instant Before Running Away

The Trop clearly has decent awareness, and seems to be bemused by Rohaimi's lack of weapons.

Fiddler's relays a few encrypted tightbeams.

Ewnoh: "Holy zarking zark, sir!"

Trey: "I, uh, could spend some time being female, if you wanted someone to bear your young. If you wanted."

Doos: "Trop with an assault weapon... he's, uh, giving off hungry vibes. If you know what I mean."

I smirk slightly at the Trop. "Well, that workout has got me thirsty. Unless you're planning to try and kill me too, I think I'll go have a beer." While keeping a close eye on him, I head towards the nearest dead goon that had a med pack and relieve him of it. Plus any patches he has.

The Trop shrugs the bulky, crudely-fabricated rapid-fire blast caster into a ready position against its shoulder. Not pointing at Rohaimi, quite. But certainly suggesting that this was probably going to happen very soon.

"Seems to me that I was sent to claim territorial dominance. Seems to me that this now requires me to take that dominance from you. On your knees."

Ewnoh: "Rohaimi? You need us to try calling the police?"

Ewnoh: "Go for it. Tell them a Trop with an assault weapon just killed a bunch of people."

Trop: "Ah, but I don't claim this territory at all so there's nothing to take. I just happened to not enjoy a mob of mammals acting all stinky. Now, you've seen me duck so you know you'll have trouble killing me too quickly. So you gotta ask yourself if you think you can do it before the cops get here. Cause if they do get here, who do you think they're going to think did this? An unarmed nobody, or a rival gang member with an assault weapon?"

Trop tilts its head, but keeps its eyes in the exact same position. "We both know that the Fuzzies bought themselves a hole in enforcement, that's how they could entrench so overtly - there's no cops coming any time soon. So I get to have me some interesting target practice, with plenty of time for double-sizes multiple times, and just sauntering away. Maybe I'll pause by my new favourite hangout, that Drencher bar of yonder, and have a whole bunch of free food and drink with obsequious service."

The intersection remains eerily deserted, even as the sounds of city activity filter in from other blocks.

"Fuzzies. Ha. I like it. Anyway, the Fuzzies bought a hole for themselves. Do you think the cops will stay away when they learn the Fuzzies were all killed by a Trop with an assault weapon?"

Ewnoh: "Did you call the cops?"

I get ready to dive for cover. Did I manage to grab the med pack through all of this?

Trop: "Ha! Like the police keep receipts for who exactly wants them to not respond to emergency calls. And all these Fuzzies killed by just one Trop is exactly the message I want to have get out. Thanks."

Ewnoh: "I got shunted to an AI that said all units were busy responding to other emergencies, and it encouraged me to submit evidence if I had any. I don't think they're coming!"

Rohaimi is within lunging distance of one of the dead professionals with a med pack. Heading in a somewhat different direction, good cover is 5 meters away. Heading closer to the Trop, so-so cover behind a parked vehicle is 3 meters away. Starting to move in any direction will trigger initiative.

How far away is the Trop?

When he started slow clapping, he had gotten to 60 meters away. He stands astride some pooling blood from the extra-decimated Southern squad, and uncomfortably close to the entrance of Fiddler's.

2016.07.28 - Er, Not So Much Running Away As Might Have Been Ideal

Always one for an unexpected strategy, Throg decided to charge the assault weapon carrying seasoned combatant while himself unarmed.

The Trop was also surprised. But not so surprised that it didn't use the assault weapon. A lot.

Throg then changed his mind and fled. After getting out of line of sight, he then hid. Unfortunately, the Trop goon had a stage of scout and high-enough awareness, and found Throg before too long. The assault weapon came back into play, and despite somehow not being able to deal out the same massive damage as at the beginning of the encounter, the end result was inevitable. Throg was eventually nibbled to death by glancing blasts of high-energy collated photons.