Site 17

Session 21 - July 30, 2260

Staring Into the Burning Abyss

Alasdair

  • Detection 1
  • Energy 1
  • Control 1
  • Biology 1
  • Mechanical Technology 1
  • Elemental 1
  • Insight 1
  • Being 1
  • Clarity 1

Ananda

  • Detection 5
  • Electronics 1
  • Arcane 1
  • Medicine 1

Em

  • Defeat Security 2
  • Detection 3

Serek

  • Detection 1
  • Elemental 1
  • Control 1

CDP: 170
Total: 3930

Kassil: Last session, you entered the E Wing, which proved to be a museum; the first hall you entered covered cryptids and other anomalous lifeforms, and had both a passcard for someone who bore a strong resemblance to Ananda and an office marked as belonging to an ‘Aligari’.
Kassil: The next wing, full of strange bits of technology, yielded both a bacon ray, which fascinated Em to no end (as well as a porkrind ray marked as being somewhat dangerous), and someone who looked like a relative of Em, bearing a similar last name.
Kassil: Ananda’s lookalike and the office with the Aligari name were marked as belong to R-grade people – researchers, according to Ananda’s keycard.
Kassil: Em’s apparent relative was, apparently, an Agent.
Kassil: The group also sighted weird suggestions of something large moving, opposite them in the hall of machinery, but couldn’t pin down any creature.
Kassil: This session starts off as the group heads for the ‘Anomaly Wing’ of the museum, with Serek snapping back into a full 3D person once more.
Alasdair rubs his ears at the loud popping sound.
Kassil: So. Heading toward the Anomaly Wing.
Kassil: What are each of you doing?
Alasdair is checking his surroundings for signs of the creature or anything else that seems dangerous.
Ananda is on point heading into the Anomaly wing, alert for anything moving, or otherwise of interest.
Kassil: Serek? Em?
Serek follows Alasdair, keeping her senses alert.
Em: (follows doing likewise) (though again, in the back, watching the rear and flanks more))
Kassil: Okay. Ananda, entering the wing, you’re struck by a brief sense of vertigo; directly in front of you is a glass column that contains a rippling sphere of darkness, short through with pinpoints of light that you quickly resolve into a starfield.
Kassil: Alasdair, you don’t see any signs of motion, but there is a case of some green goo that appears to be oozing around inside the case that catches your attention.
Kassil: Serek, you nearly bump into Alasdair as you catch sight of something apparently on fire, deeper inside the hall.
Kassil: Em, you don’t see anything stalking the group.
Em naturally doesn’t relax but that’s normal.
Serek: (Free flames?)
Ananda stops and exhales sharply, staring into the starfield. She checks for a nameplate on that display.
Alasdair moves to check out the goo.
Kassil: The flames appear to be in a glass case, but you can’t be sure from the entryway.
Kassil: Ananda, you read ‘AO-1004 – Self-contained cosmos’, with a blurb about how it doesn’t seem to match up to anything know in the observable universe, and that the outer surface of the sphere appears to radiate at slightly above room temperature under all conditions.
Kassil: Alasdair, the plate with the goo reads ‘AO-667 – Motile Lubricant’ and a blurb describing it as being an exceptionally problematic substance that lowers the friction of anything it slides across to nearly 0 while remaining highly sticky and viscous itself.
Serek steps toward the fire, slowly but with intent.
Alasdair mutters, “That sounds unpleasant.”
Kassil: Serek, you thread your way through the other displays – some fascinating-looking in their own right, such as the tree-like mass of vibrant purple crystals and a display that only appears to have something in it out of the corner of your eye – to reach a case where a sphere is suspended in the middle, burning brightly despite the sealed condition of the case.
Kassil: The plaque on the fire case notes it as AO-443, Perpetual Fire, and the blurb describes it as being impossible to douse by any means, although fires lit from it behave normally.
Kassil: Em, give me another Detection check.
Ananda studies the self-contained cosmos. Are those stars she’s looking at, or galaxies, or clusters of galaxies?
Em wonders if the physics she knows for engineering calls anything to her attention that is anomalous about this self contained galaxy.
Serek mutters something about oxidizing agents and heat transfer as she observes the fire sphere; her tone is somewhat amused.
Kassil: Em, you notice something rusty-colored splatter near your feet.
Kassil: Staring into the dark sphere, you gradually make out galactic shapes and supergalatic filaments.
Em signs “Is that blood by my feet”
Ananda is intent on the starfield, and doesn’t notice.
Kassil: Alasdair, you’re pretty sure that despite the mobility of the goo, it’s not alive.
Kassil: Em, no one appears to be looking at you, and the air doesn’t respond to your sign.
Em taps Ananda on the shoulder, carefully avoiding the rusty bits to point it out to her, since she’s the biologist.
Ananda starts a little, then moves to investigate the stain.
Kassil: If you want to sample it, biology. If you want to jsut make a field estimate, you’d say it’s blood, and it dripped from the roof right by the door.
Ananda: Anything up on the roof?
Ananda: The ceiling, rather.
Kassil: Looking up, you see a vaguely familiar person – one of the Nephilim from the survey crew that left a few days back – pinned to the ceiling in a spread-eagled fashion, held there by large spikes that appear to be iron, underneath the blood that’s dried on them.
Alasdair studies the fluid dynamics of the goo and drums lightly on the container.
Kassil: He’s positioned in a way that if you don’t look directly up as you come in, he’s easy to miss.
Ananda stares a bit. Clicks her P-Comm to get the others’ attention.
Kassil: Alasdair, the goo responds to your drumming by rippling with the vibration.
Em: (what was he like, personality wise?)
Kassil: You have no idea, Em.
Kassil: You never interacted with him.
Serek turns to Ananda and moves toward her until she can see her expression, then follows her gaze upward.
Alasdair glances over at Ananda.
Em mourns a Redshirt_06
Em signs “shall I retrieve him?” (gets ready with her telekinesis)
Ananda notes in her usual whisper, “Surprising we didn’t smell him on the way in.”
Em: Air currents?
Em: Convectioned away the scent?
Ananda: (How high’s the ceiling?)
Kassil: About five meters.
Alasdair replies almost as quietly, “Sense left this place centuries ago.”
Ananda: “A carcass looking like that should reek even in a strong wind.”
Em: Magic?
Em looks worried
Ananda shrugs, “Maybe. At least we’ve a bodybag this time.”
Em: Something making us interpret carrion as normal smell?
Ananda sniffs. Is there anything unusual to smell at all?
Kassil: You can’t smell anything unusual, beyond the typical faintly musty smell that the top floor has.
Serek keeps looking at the corpse, in silence. Her expression is mostly neutral, though her eyebrows twitch between interest and amusement.
Alasdair motions everyone out from under the corpse.
Ananda moves.
Em scuttles out of the way and signs to Serek “Unimpressed at the scare tactics?”
Serek was never near it.
Serek shrugs at Em.
Ananda puzzles at the corpse. “I’d suggest that it was artful, except that he either died of it, or was dead beforehand.”
Alasdair pulls out the spikes and drops the corpse. (Minimizing damage and splatter).
Kassil: It takes a surprising amount of force, but Alasdair manages to drag the spikes out – the extremities come loose first, leaving the body hanging with hands and feet dangling for several seconds before the other spikes come loose, dropping it to the floor with only a soft squelch.
Ananda finds the bodybag in her backpack and puts on gloves for handling it, and/or the corpse.
Alasdair moves to study the freshness and condition of the corpse, avoiding touching it if possible.
Kassil: The corpse is clearly a few days old, starting to decay and leak. Cause of death was likely the iron spike through the throat and neck. It’s amazing that it has no smell whatsoever, despite the rot.
Ananda remembers to take a few still images, before packing the corpse away.
Alasdair: No sign of chemical treatment or combat damage?
Serek keeps out of the way, silently lamenting that they want to save the corpse.
Kassil: With Alasdair’s manipulation, the corpse is bagged fairly tidily.
Ananda seals the bodybag and leaves it by the entrance to collect later. Makes a slow circuit around the perimeter of the room.
Kassil: Ananda, you find several interesting objects, including the perpetual fire and the violet crystal tree, but no evidence of anything that would indicate how the body wound up nailed up there. The offices bear no familiar names, and all belong to either R and A rank individuals.
Alasdair attempts to determine the source of the spikes.
Kassil: They look like railroad pitons.
Alasdair frowns. “How the hell…”
Ananda completes the circuit and returns to the doorway. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they were simply extruded from the ceiling.”
Alasdair briefly raises an eyebrow at Ananda before putting his hand on the wall beneath where the corpse was anchored and attempting to will forth a roast beef sandwich with horseradish.
Kassil: The wall, notably, fails to react to the attempt.
Alasdair: “I am disappointed at the Site’s refusal to be useful.”
Ananda smiles crookedly, “Kf.”
Ananda checks out the crystal tree.
Alasdair does, as well.
Em double checks nothing is sneaking up on us and checks if there’s any sign of data transmissions or electrical current connecting to or from the tree.
Kassil: It appears to be a spruce tree, although one born entirely out of a vibrant violet crystal. Anyone with a survivalist multi-monitor will notice there’s a small uptick in radiation near it – not enough to be harmful, but noticable.
Ananda: Which kind of radiation?
Serek: The ‘disturbance’ done, Serek returns to her contemplation of the fire sphere.
Kassil: Mild gamma radiation.
Kassil: The fire sphere has not measurably changed since Serek left it.
Ananda: What’s the plaque on the tree say?
Kassil: AO-171 – Living Crystal – the blurb indicates that it seems to be a silicate lifeform, growing at a geological rate using materials drawn from the environment. Closer inspection will show that the tree’s split the metal container it used to be in, with gleaming root crystals sinking into the floor.
Em looks if there’s any sign of files to go with this area, as there was for the museum, stealthily but not too paranoid, presuming any nasties would have jumped us while we were doing corpse retrieval.
Kassil: Em, your search of filing cabinets finds mostly stray fragments and a lot of age-rotted paper.
Ananda: "I would not call growing that much in a century and a half ‘geological’. On the other hand, time here is somewhat odd…
Alasdair rubs his chin thoughtfully while checking the roots.
Ananda checks the case for a way to open it.
Em doesn’t suppose her wielding can reconstruct any of it to its predecomposed state?
Kassil: Alasdair, the roots don’t seem very deep.
Kassil: Em – nope, sorry, the SI of the documents is 0.
Kassil: Ananda, you identify what you’re pretty sure is the lock, but you can’t get it open.
Ananda: “Em, could you give me a hand with this?”
Ananda takes pictures while she waits.
Em comes over and tries to avoid looking nervous since she’s not that good at this skulldudgery stuff.
Kassil: Em, you’re not sure what Ananda’s problem was, as you easily isolate the lock’s mechanism and pop it open.
Ananda: “Thanks.”
Em: Gladly.
Em checks if there’s any sign of clandestine security monitors and if so any way to tap their feed/hack their network.
Ananda uses the X-ray spec on her SMM to see what elements the crystal tree is made of.
Ananda: (Particularly interested in radioactive ones.)
Kassil: Em, you don’t find any clandestine surveillance equipment.
Kassil: The tree appears to be made primarily of the elements that form amethyst, although there’s a mixer of uranium and thorium in it, as well as a small amount of some energetic particle your SMM can’t isolate.
Ananda eyes the amethyst tree. Reaches up to break off a leaf – surely it won’t miss one.
Serek: If that succeeds and makes a sound, Serek will turn around toward it.
Alasdair ahems and grins. “Allow me.”
Kassil: Ananda tugs in the tree, causing the entire tree to shift slightly with a soft grinding sound.
Alasdair forms a small, incredibly focused, localized resonant force to fracture off an intact segment of root a couple inches long.
Ananda looks at Alasdair with bemusement, a moment too late. “I’m the one with the hammer.” The rock hammer from her climbing gear is brought to bear in a moment, carefully.
Kassil: There’s a sharp ringing sound, followed by a crack as a piece of the root fractures loose.
Kassil: The SMM Geiger counter spikes up briefly, emitting an alarm for a split second.
Alasdair bows theatrically. “M’lady.”
Ananda: (Any result from the hammer on a leaf?)
Kassil: Using the hammer cracks the leaf loose with another charp sound and burst of radiation.
Ananda nods to Alasdair, placing both chips of amethyst into a small metal box. “Redundant samples. Good.”
Em: Ah, what is that specific alarm telling us?
Ananda hesitates, then ruber-bands the box closed for whatever good that might do. Exotic radiation is not to be messed around with lightly.
Serek watches the procedure, keeping an eye on the Geiger counter.
Kassil: It is indeed a radiation alarm.
Ananda closes the case back up, unless anyone else wants to do something to the crystal tree.
Em is uncertain what else to investigate here
Kassil: Well, there’s the case that only seems to have something out of the corner of your eye.
Kassil: Or Serek’s eternal fire.
Ananda ambles over to Serek and looks at the display and its nameplate.
Alasdair uses his P-Comm to take pictures of things around the corner-of-the-eye case but only “accidentally” includes it in the frame.
Em blinks and tries to see if the case with the Someone Else’s Problem field looks different from different angle or if she focuses on acting as if she has different emotions (fear, anticipation, happiness, anger).
Kassil: The P-comm doesn’t find anything in the case, although sufficient corner-of-eye examination suggests whatever it is is about the size of a human head and ovoid.
Kassil: The nameplates marks it as AO-55 – Quantum Egg.
Alasdair looks at the nothing that’s there in place of the object.
Kassil: The nothing appears to be an empty case.
Kassil: The plaque indicates that they were /fairly/ sure it was an egg, but not one with any hope of hatching, and that it only seems to exist if you’re in a position where there /might/ be something there.
Alasdair stands in a position such that he and the case are both on the edge of Em’s field of vision and checks the case’s contents.
Kassil: Looking directly at the case yields an empty case for Alasdair, and a corner-of-eye egg shape otherwise.
Kassil: Well.
Kassil: Who is doing what?
Alasdair chalks it up to “Site strangeness” and stands behind Ananda’s left shoulder, watching her watch the flames.
Em tries to see if it’s possible to touch the egg while lookign directly at it.
Serek has the best of two worlds—the flames and the out-of-corner-of-her-eye egg when she glances away from the fire to rest her eyes.
Kassil: Em, the security on thise case eludes you.
Em asks Ananda to help her get into the case
Em: “The object in here is only visible looked at indirectly, I’m curious if it physically exists when you try to look at it directly.”
Alasdair daydreams about lunch.
Kassil: The egg, while Alasdair daydreams of omelettes, remains visible in the corner of his eye, despite Em staring straight at it.
Alasdair ponders the paperwork involved in requisitioning some decent pastrami.
Ananda stands next to Serek at the Eternal Flame. She ignores Em for a moment, intent on the flow of heat through the local area. A small two-handed gesture finishes her attempt to hold the mass of flame in her will.
Kassil: Try though you might, the flame itself, being elemental, eludes your wielding grasp; you manage to catch fleeting wisps if thermal energy radiating off of it, but that’s it.
Ananda: “Slippery thing.”
Serek: “What are you doing?”
Ananda: “Trying to convince it to burn hotter, just to see if it responds.”
Serek: “It’s Fire. You don’t convince it.”
Alasdair: “Um, can we set up a failsafe first? I don’t think Extra Crispy would agree with me.”
Ananda looks up, “Hn? Go ahead.”
Ananda waits until Alasdair is finished, then tries again, with a different Source.
Kassil sets Ananda’s Wielding aside until Alasdair does whatever he’s doing.
Alasdair reaches past Ananda and puts up a cylindrical barrier around the case to contain any explosion of fire Serek is about to unleash.
Kassil: (And Serek is Wielding at the same time, so Ananda’s effort is slightly behind hers.)
Serek: “You Make it.”
Kassil: All right, as Ananda winds up her attempt, and Alasdair crystallizes a shimmering force barrier around the Perpetual Fire, Serek reaches out with her Wielding and seizes the flames, bending them to her will. Fanning the flames hotter, Serek?
Serek: Yes.
Kassil: The flames flare white-hot as serek feeds them with her Wielding, driving them hot enough that the glass case begins to show signs of heat stress. Ananda, your DR is lower, what were you attempting when you began Wielding?
Ananda: Grab it and give it a boost. Maybe see if I can feel where the infinite well of heat is.
Kassil: Not through a control effect, you won’t feel it. As Ananda’s Wielding effort piles on with Serek’s, the Perpetual Fire blazes an eye-searing white, followed by the glass case shattering implosively, the outrush of heat halted by Alasdair’s barrier field as the roaring flames begin sucking in air as fuel, forming a vortex of flame rising above the sphere.
Ananda shields her eyes by pure reflex.
Em: …How are we doing for air supply in the rest of the room? o_o
Em: (Are we suffering low-pressure/vacuum effects?)
Kassil: The case wasn’t that big.
Alasdair ducks his head and prepares to shield Ananda if something catastrophic happens.
Kassil: You do have a brisk breeze blowing by, though.
Ananda grins at Serek, “Well, I didn’t think you’d say ‘pretty please’ to it.”
Kassil: The vortex of fire is rapidly climbing toward the ceiling, and the barrier Alasdair put in place is sparkling brightly as it holds back the intense heat of the fire.
Serek is grinning at the flames like a small child with a new toy.
Em: (wonders what’s happening inside the little universe o_o)
Kassil: The self-contained cosmos seems unaffected by the raging fire a short distance away.
Kassil: So.
Kassil: Continuing to coax the flames hotter?
Ananda: “Alasdair, could you find out the source of the Eternal Flame, by any chance?”
Serek: Nah, she’s shown her point. Keep them ‘stable’.
Alasdair: “I can certainly try.”
Kassil: Does stable include maintaining the cyclone of fire?
Ananda shapes the flames, just to play with them. Running water, first. It probably looks like an oil fire.
Serek: I was just referring to temperature.
Kassil: Letting Ananda play with the shape, fighting her, or otherwise, Serek?
Kassil: The flames dim down a touch as Serek stops fueling their mad growth, stopping the fire cyclone short of the roof and bringing it back down.
Serek: Let her have fun.
Alasdair tries to peel back the mysteries of the Eternal Flame.
Ananda arranges the flame by whim. The image of a wicker man rises out of the torrent, grows into a massive tree, is overtaken by inch-long army ants…
Kassil: Alasdair, after about thirty seconds, falls over, out cold.
Ananda pauses, leaving the ants frozen in midair. She checks Alasdair’s vital signs, and if stable, waits.
Alasdair makes throaty “rrruh” sounds, eyes rolled back into his head.
Kassil: He has a slight fever, but you think he’s probably fine; after about five minutes, Alasdair returns to the waking world.
Alasdair blinks heavily and struggles to sit up.
Alasdair: “Let’s, uh, not do that again.”
Ananda has one eye on the fire, which has gone through several permutations and is presently a running horse with too many legs. She seems to be trying to work out how the joints would operate. Pauses and turns her attention to Alasdair. “What did you learn?”
Alasdair starts to speak several times, his hands describing something he can’t quite put into words.
Serek lets Ananda shape the fire and deems her work Passable.
Kassil: Ananda, your effect has worn off by now. Serek, on the other hand, still has control over it, with her 19 minute duration.
Ananda: (I’d have renewed it, then.)
Ananda: (Waiting is dull.)
Kassil: mmkay.
Kassil: Then as above. Continue.
Ananda tries to derive meaning from the handwaving.
Alasdair: “Um… imagine an infinity of fire that is somehow alive. This, uh, thing, is its… uh… blowhole? We don’t really have a concept for what’s on the other side.”
Alasdair fishes around his pack for some water.
Ananda imagines. “Actual infinity, or just so far as you could tell?”
Alasdair sips and collects his thoughts.
Alasdair: “Well, it felt immense beyond my ability to comprehend. Sort of the way trying to imagine a million people does.”
Ananda nods distantly, “Close enough.”
Alasdair: "And it was alive, but not like, " he hooks a thumb in the direction of the main room, “the ‘presence’ here does. Not malevolent, just.. vast and eternal.”
Ananda: “Hm.”
Ananda offers a hand to Alasdair, to help him to his feet.
Alasdair gladly accepts the assistance.
Alasdair: “Huh. Feels like it got colder in here.”
Ananda: (Is that noticable to the rest of us?)
Kassil: Nope.
Ananda: “I think that’s just you. Hardly surprising.”
Em: Were there any separate beings in that universe, or was it just the big fire god-ish entity?
Alasdair gives the Eternal Fire a sidelong glance.
Alasdair: “My mind went ‘shoooof’ ‘foom’ ‘pop’ so I couldn’t really tell.”
Em: Hrm. So communicating with it seems impossible at this point I take it? Incompatible perspectives?
Alasdair gives Em a wry smile and gestures grandly toward the fire. “Give it a go.”
Ananda idly walks to the offices. Checks them for pictures & ID.
Alasdair tags along with Ananda, eager to look at something that isn’t on fire and making his eyes hurt.
Kassil: Ananda, you find a pair of ID badges, one for Agent Holstead and one for Researcher Candis. Neither of them look like Serek at all, despite your prior expectation.
Ananda: “Another Agent-level office. Maybe not so unusual.”
Kassil: So, are you going to try taking anything from the Anomaly Wing? Going to head deeper into the Site? Or going to head back toward Saint Mary?
Ananda: We’ve got the samples from the amethyst tree.
Ananda: And a full bodybag.
Alasdair: And the body. For now.
Em pauses to ask Ananda if she would have better luck confirming the non Schroedinger’s Cat ness of the egg.
Kassil: (I’m waiting to see if Serek tries leaving with the Perpetual Fire.)
Serek: No—it belongs here.
Serek: Wouldn’t want to make it uncomfortable.
Ananda asks Em, “Er, what exactly do you want me to do?”
Em: if you can open the case, see if you can touch the egg while looking at it, when it’s either invisible…or doesn’t exist.
Em: I’m not sure which is the case.
Em: I can do the touching part, if need be, I just can’t seem to figure out the case alas.
Em looks a bit frustrated after her earlier deftness.
Kassil: Either smash the case, or make Defeat Security checks on it, for what you want to try.
Ananda tinkers with the lock, “I’ll give it a try.”
Kassil: Ananda has no luck at all.
Ananda quickly gives up, making even less headway than Em.
Kassil: Em, you can make another check.
Alasdair will make Em more betterer.
Kassil: Em cracks the case open, with Alasdair’s boost.
Em lets out a shaky breath and nods grateful to Alasdair and then swallows and tests her theory on the egg.
Kassil: Attempts to examine the egg find that for anyone looking at it, the egg doesn’t exist, although anyone indirectly watching can see it stop their hands when they reach for it. Not looking directly at it, Em can feel smooth eggshell, cool to the touch.
Em: I think we want to bring THIS back for study. o_o
Ananda watches Em with interest.
Alasdair idly ponders how to most effectively quarantine/neutralize/evaporate Em should she be irrevocably contaminated by the egg.
Kassil: All right.
Kassil: So.
Em: I have a horrible suspicion this isn’t some strange magic, I think this thing has different physical laws in the first place.
Em: It will take testing to be sure.
Kassil: Ananda is carrying tree crystals. Alasdair is probably telekinetically manipulating the bodybag. Em is trying not to look at the egg as she carries it.
Kassil: Serek has chosen to leave the Perpetual Fire behind.
Ananda: “A sufficiently advanced magic may be indistinguishable.”
Serek is saying goodbye to her new pet friend.
Em: how big is the egg?
Em: (wonders what happens if it gets broken o_o)
Kassil: Unless there’s something else of vital and dire importance, you all get 170 CDP and we’ll pick up next session with leaving the Site, briefly, and the return to St. Mary.
Em: (does NOT test that theory)
Kassil: The egg is about the size of a human head.
Ananda: Works for me.
Alasdair: Sounds good.

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