Site 17

Session 25 - August 6?, 2260

Strange Minds

Alasdair

  • Control 1
  • Detection 3
  • Energy 1
  • Nihilism 1
  • Void 1

Ananda

  • Detection 1
  • Energy 1
  • Nihilism 1

Em

  • Arcane 1
  • Computer Tech 2
  • Detection 1
  • Electronics 1

Serek

  • No checks

CDP: 160
Total: 4580

Kassil: Okay, so. Last session, you ended off by collecting a mysterious firearm, letting loose a flying crystal, and gawking at a distressingly advanced-looking object that might be an AI core.
Kassil: You’re threading your way through level 2 of the Site.
Kassil: And Alasdair found a strange skeleton.
Ananda: How many marked lockers are left?
Kassil: There are three Em wasn’t able to open.
Alasdair: How badly do we want to get in them?
Ananda ambles over to the first locker that had Em styimed. She looks at it intently and rubs her thumb over the hinges. Kassil: Ananda’s touch causes a patina of corrosion to film over the lock, with little pieces flaking away, but the lock still seems to be largely intact.
Ananda: (I was going for the hinge side because once those are gone you can usually just lift the lock out.)
Kassil: Mmkay. Replace ‘lock’ with ‘hinges’.
Kassil: It’s still pretty much intact, but would likely be a nuisance to swing open if the lock gave way.
Kassil: So, what now?
Ananda frowns at the locker. Mutters something about proof of concept and handwaves some more.
Alasdair is over by another locker when Ananda short circuits.
Kassil: The hinges barely seem affected by your misfired Wielding.
Alasdair lightly taps the lock, willing the entire mechanism to evaporate.
Kassil: Alasdair’s attempt causes the entire locking mechanism to visibly sublimate, the metal thinning down; there’s still a visible piece remaining, but it’s come loose from the locker door to the point that a small tug is all it takes to open it.
Kassil: Inside the locker is an archaic-looking smartphone.
Alasdair: “Hey, Em, what do you make of this?”
Ananda looks over at the sound of the last bit of metal snapping.
Kassil: It’s sitting on a carefully folded stack of cloth.
Kassil: (It’s less ‘snapping’ and more ‘the tug rattles it out of place’.)
Alasdair looks over his shoulder at Ananda and signs, “Something in your locker wants out.”
Ananda raises an eyebrow. Signs back, ‘Interesting. Motive?’
Alasdair signs, “Just heard a hissing voice say ‘Release us.’ Not likely benevolent.”
Alasdair: “Think I broke Em. She’s gone catatonic.”
Ananda knocks on the locker door.
Kassil: The knock rattle the door slightly and causes some of the rusty buildup to flake from the hinges.
Ananda signs, ’We’ll have to see if she remembers how she got here, when she wakes up.’
Em: (examines the contents of the locker carefully, savoring her clarity)
Kassil: Em, you can make a Computer Tech or an Electronics check to examine the phone, if you want.
Ananda says nothing when Em comes back to herself, but gives her a concerned look while she’s turned away.
Kassil: Em finds the power function and boots the phone up; despite having sat in the locker without a charger for so long, it loads up smoothly and quietly, appearing to boot into a standard communication interface. It takes Em a minute to realize it’s the same as a P-comm interface, despite the phone’s age.
Em explores the functions to see if there’s anythign anomolous like “reboot universe”.
Kassil: Em, you determine that the phone seems to be a very smoothly-functioning P-comm, despite the outward appearance of an old smartphone. It seems to be much more responsive than your own P-comm, and has a staggering amount of data storage available.
Kassil: The only clear oddity you find otherwise is an application named ‘Oracle’.
Em: I cautiously experiment with the menu, trying to find help functions and other info on it before doing anything major. Do I need to make another roll?
Kassil: Are you looking for help and ‘about’ info on the phone, or on the Oracle app?
Em: Both, like whatever databases my pcomm can tap, and whatever files (readme, release notes, help menus) in the app itself and the main phone itself which might explain the relation of the phone to Oracle)
Kassil: When you see if you can access the same resources as your P-comm, there’s a half-second lag, and your P-comm chirps before you successfully access information stored on your P-comm.
Kassil: The Oracle app doesn’t seem to have any information associated with it short of launching the app itself.
Em signs "It’s an odd looking pcomm. Has a strange program called “oracle”. No data on it. Shall I experiment?"
Ananda starts to pace among the lockers, but sticks her head back around the corner when Em’s P-Comm chirps.
Alasdair: “Definitely.”
Em: Or anyone else want to look for data on it?
Ananda: “Go for it.”
Alasdair subtly takes a few steps back while Em’s not watching.
Em runs the program, having her pcomm monitoring the pcomm, and seeing if the discovered pcomm can monitor itself in the background too. try to see if I can at least run with lots of pauses.
Kassil: Em’s P-comm shuts itself off when she tries to monitor the boot of the Oracle app, and the smartphone’s screen goes blank for a few seconds before a green cursor blinks on and prints across the screen. “Welcome to ORACLE. Please enter or speak query.”
Em enters “What functions can ORACLE perform?” and quietly prays by accident o_o
Kassil: There’s a momentary pause. “ORACLE is a subfunction of the Akashic Knowledge Storage System, designated for retrieval of information in response to queries, in addition to a limited-scale communication network.”
Kassil: There’s another pause, followed by, “Error: Prayer not delivered. Recipient not on ORACLE network.”
Alasdair idly wonders how safe it is to play with this thing.
Em: (shows everone the answer and repeats the query she gave. and then she blanches and signs "….I accidentally prayed to the Mormon God. It heard me !!!)
Em: (does Em have the Arcane to know what Akshkic means? I do)
Em votes we retreat and have a conference about querying this thing before testing it any further
Ananda puzzles. Decides not to ask how one accidentally prays.
Kassil: You’ve heard of the Akashic library, but it seems kind of silly that this thing would access somehing like that.
Em: Why does it seem silly?
Ananda: “Oracle: What’s in the corroded locker that I tried to open a moment ago?”
Kassil: The Akashic Library is just a metaphoric concept on the order of the ‘perfect forms’ of Greek philosophy.
Kassil: The phone doesn’t respond to Ananda speaking to it.
Em: So is God by most modern philosophers reckoning, especially Em’s secular-agnostic perspective….but it “heard” her praying to one o_o So if it thinks it can contact this, it seems to refer to a real thing of some sort o_o
Em repeats Ananda’s request
Kassil: There’s a short pause before the screen responds. “I’m sorry, Miss Egnatius. Your clearance for this information is insufficient. Records indicate that pursuit of this course of inquiry may be hazardous to your physical integrity, however.”
Alasdair: “Ask it how the color designations for the rooms on this level correspond to the danger level and contents of said rooms.”
Em throws caution to the wind “Oracle: what determines a user’s security clearance?”
Em waits for an answer and if she’s still sane and alive, passes on Alasdair’s q
Kassil: The screen blinks for a few seconds. “Error: security clearance network is currently not able to be accessed due to defunct status of Security Foundation.”
Kassil: It repeats the response in answer to Alasdair’s question.
Em looks consternated and thinks the ghost of Steve Jobs is laughing at her, this thing evidently doesn’t believe in letting her at its guts.
Em: Oracle, are there any consequences to user Em Egnatius for querying Oracle aside from any mental and/or emotional reactions to the answers?
Kassil: “Question is not fully clear. To the best of ORACLE’s information, the only present threat to you, Miss Egnatius, is in your current presence in the location designated as ‘Site 17’ and the various items and lifeforms resident within it.”
Alasdair: “Ask it what we could do to repair Security Foundation.”
Em: Oracle, is there any quota or limit on the number or types of queries a user may make either absolutely or per day?
Em will ask Alasdair’s q after hearing about that one.
Kassil: The screen pauses for nearly ten seconds this time. “Limitations designated solely by user’s access priority and clearance level. Current network traffic is minimal, allowing high access priority. No numeric limitations on queries at present time.”
Em nods and passes on the other q
Kassil: The response to the relayed question is, "Error: Security Foundation is defunct. Full-scale replacement necessary to ‘restore’. ORACLE network estimates minimal probability of restoration, in light of status of designated location ‘Earth’ as probable site of future events ‘Wastelander Project’ and ‘Evolution War’.
Ananda leans against the row of lockers and absently chews on her lower lip. “Ask it about the scope and intent of this Akashic Knowledge Storage System?”
Alasdair: “And the ‘Wastelander Project’. That sounds important.”
Em: Hold, folks.
Em: my pcomm and this thing are getting unusually warm.
Em says "Oracle, exit Oracle program.
Em: presuming it does, I turn both units off immediately
Em: (after trying to get quick data dump of the network stats to storage if that seems safe)
Kassil: There’s almost no lag time before Oracle shuts down. The blinking light on Em’s P-comm stops flickering as soon as it exits, and it reports several terabytes of data passed through since Oracle was opened up, despite the phone itself having shut down spontaneously when she tried to monitor Oracle with it.
Kassil: The P-comm isn’t normally capable of processing that much data that rapidly.
Alasdair: ( What is the color and designation of this room? )
Em blinks “how did it act as a conduit if it shut itself down?”
Em: Do I have any idea offhand?
Em: since i can’t really do analysis of the pcomm while it’s off I think?
Em: or can I?
Kassil: (SOS 443, yellow designation.)
Kassil: You really have no idea, Em.
Alasdair walks over to the locker Ananda was rusting and taps three times on the door.
Alasdair says, in Mandarin, “Hey, if you want out you’d better say so before we leave.”
Ananda ambles over to the final locker and eyes it critically. She calls a thin line of force into being, to sever the bolt holding it closed.
Alasdair: “No? Well, someone might come by in 60 years or so. Maybe you’ll learn to speak up by then.”
Kassil: There’s a loud screech as metal is brutally wrenched and torn apart by Ananda’s effect, leaving a ragged hole torn around where the now-mangled lock is only vaguely holding the locker door shut.
Ananda winces at the sound. She was trying for something more elegant, but clearly that needs more finesse.
Ananda rattles the lock open and has a look inside.
Kassil: There’s what looks like a very high-tech grenade sitting on a very plush pillow inside the locker.
Kassil: There’s a small green light glowing next to the grenade’s pin.
Ananda: “Say, Em? Can you tell me if this thing has a network interface?”
Em asks to borrow Ananda’s pcomm and if she may, has a go at analyzing between that, her own phsyical tools and eyeball if the thing does.
Alasdair: “Hiss all you want, Ophidian. If I can’t hear your words, how do I know what you want?”
Ananda: (What language is that?)
Kassil: Em, you can’t find any network access to the grenade.
Ananda: (Since he started in Mandarin..)
Alasdair: ( Still Mandarin. )
Ananda: (‘kay.)
Alasdair: ( Though he is clearly talking to the locker. )
Em: If there’s a network access, it’s beyond my understanding of how you’d make it work. unless the explosion opens some sort of portal…..
Ananda: “Let’s save that until we’re outside.”
Alasdair looks at Ananda, nods at the locker and raises an eyebrow questioningly.
Ananda considers the rusty locker. “We could detach that unit and take it with us…”
Alasdair signs, “Do you hear anything inside the locker?”
Ananda listens.
Ananda shakes her head, signs, ‘No. Do you?’
Alasdair signs back, “One. Serpentine. Saying ‘release us’.”
Alasdair says, in Mandarin, “How do I know you’re not just a hallucination like everything else here?”
Ananda digs out a box and packs the grenade securely, with its plush pillow on one side and a spare shirt on the others. “Volunteers to carry this one back?”
Ananda is smiling faintly when she asks.
Kassil: So, who was it that took the gun?
Alasdair frowns thoughtfully at the locker.
Em: Ananda I think?
Ananda: (I did.)
Ananda: (Does the grenade by any chance bear a ZX maker’s mark?)
Alasdair: How sealed is the locker? Would a bright light seep in through the cracks?
Kassil: Ananda, when you pick the grenade up, you feel something shift where you put the gun.
Kassil: The grenade has no visible maker’s mark.
Kassil: And the locker is fairly well sealed, but a strong light could probably seep through the cracks.
Ananda puts the grenade down, in its new container. Gets out the ZX gun and looks for changes.
Em: (I’d vote duct taping the pin on the grenade in place btw)
Ananda: (I’m not touching the pin.)
Alasdair: ( Knowing this place, that would only ensure that it fell out. )
Kassil: The gun appears to have modified itself into a grenade launcher.
Ananda: It was in a rather small box?
Alasdair: Would my shoulder light be enough or would it need to be something stronger?
Kassil: If you aimed it well or augmented it a little, it could probably shine inside the locker, Alasdair.
Alasdair motions Em over.
Em comes over
Kassil: Ananda, it still fit in the box until you pulled it out. It felt a bit surreal to pull a full-size grenade launcher out of the box.
Ananda boggles a little, having pulled a cartoon physics moment.
Alasdair hands Em his shoulder light and sign-instructs her to point it at the crack in the locker.
Em does so
Ananda holds the grenade launcher and walks away from the ammunition, to see if it goes back to pistol-mode.
Kassil: The light shines into the crevice on the locker to no visible effect.
Kassil: Once Ananda steps away from the grenade a few paces, the gun blurs, and she can feel it squirm against her grip until she’s holding a SMG much like her own.
Ananda: Still ZX branded?
Kassil: It’s been ZX-marked the whole time.
Ananda: ‘kay.
Ananda returns to watch Em and Alasdair puzzling over the locker.
Alasdair communes with the air to sense the interior of the locker.
Ananda taps a fingernail against one of the lockers for attention, then signs, ’Learn anything?’
Ananda looks over the ZX, now comfortably SMG-shaped, flicks the safety on, and relaxes a hair.
Alasdair shakes his head as if to clear it. “Best seal this up. Whatever’s in there should never see the light of day.”
Em: I could create some material for you to forge into a better barrier around it ?
Alasdair growls in English, “Oh, NOW you fear me. Consider yourself lucky I don’t evaporate you into nothingness.”
Ananda: “What is it?”
Alasdair: “Something serpentine and sinister. That’s all I can tell.”
Ananda shakes her head, “Things that can talk and aren’t trying to kill us are someone else’s problem. By all means, seal it in.”
Ananda: “A century and a half hasn’t hurt it, after all.”
Alasdair will spend 15 minutes tearing the open doors off the other lockers and welding them over the serpent’s locker.
Kassil: After a quarter-hour, the locker is sealed under a thick layer of fused metal, still glowing at the edges with the heat applied to them.
Alasdair wipes his hands on his pants and sneers at the locker.
Ananda: (Are there benches in here, by any chance?)
Kassil: There are not.
Alasdair refreshes everyone’s Endurance at base, 32.
Kassil: It seems more ‘evidence lockers’ than ‘gym lockers’.
Ananda: Ahh’kay.
Kassil: So, what now?
Alasdair: ( Going to the room next door? Which one is that? )
Ananda sets up a little, while Alasdair is busy.
Kassil: SOS-899-A, yellow.
Ananda kneels and sets the ZX weapon on the ground in front of her. She gestures minimally and addresses it, “A little bird tells me that you’re aware…”
Ananda looks around the room bemusedly, keeping one hand on the weapon. She wills it to assume pistol-shape to see if it responds.
Ananda looks puzzled, shrugs, and picks the thing up. Shakes her head, “Interesting, that. I’m holding the thing, but it won’t change gear for me.”
Ananda picks up the container with the grenade. See if she can catch it shifting on its own.
Alasdair: “Take some of Em’s shotgun ammo. I think that’s what it responds to.”
Em offers it.
Kassil: It blurs, squirming against Ananda’s hand, and after a few seconds she’s holding a grenade launcher again. Attempting to watch it shift results in your eyes watering.
Ananda carefully sets the box of grenade back down and closes her eyes. She waits a little before accepting Em’s offered ammunition.
Em is definitely a bit agog at this “gun”
Kassil: The gun fails to respond to Ananda taking the shotgun shell, aside from, after she moves away from the grenade, turning back into a SMG.
Ananda remains somewhat bemused. “I think I like it. Not going to do that again, though.”
Ananda hands Em back her shotgun shell. “Might be greatest quantity of ammunition nearby, or something like that.”
Kassil: So…?
Em: (could give you her bandolier)
Ananda de-vests herself of SMG clips and accepts the bandolier.
Em: (thinks it doesn’t create ammo out of nothing, it just goes with what type of ammo in the quantity presentd oes the most total damage)
Alasdair takes a little time to conjure a fist-size blob of Void energy and waves it around in the gun’s general vicinity.
Em: (but doesn’t need reloading)
Alasdair: ( No one’s tried actually firing the gun yet. )
Kassil: The gun fails to change form when Ananda takes the bandolier, but when Alasdair comes near it it shifts into a bizarre shape that looks like a hybrid of a dart gun and a 1950s-style ray gun.
Ananda perks up. She’s never seen one of these. Hands Em her bandolier.
Em: (laughs) (total death ray damage) > (full clip of SMG) > (grenade) > (shotgun)
Ananda: (How far am I from the farthest wall, and which room is on the other side?)
Kassil: You think you can pick an aisle between the lockers that’ll let you shoot at a wall that shouldn’t have anything behind it.
Kassil: It’s roughly 20 meters.
Ananda: (Is there a power setting or anything of that nature on the ZX?)
Kassil: Nope. If you move away from Alasdair, the gun reverts to a SMG form.
Ananda: “Come over here a moment, Alasdair?” She moves to the best-target aisle.
Alasdair: Even if I’m not Wielding? Interesting.
Alasdair stands directly behind Ananda.
Em: ….now the big question is, will it cause Alasdair to involuntarily wield to power it if he stands close to Ananada and she pulls the trigger
Em: second question is if she pulls the trigger if she can stop before the gun wants to stop
Kassil: As long as you were close, it had the strange shape; it doesn’t return to the ray-gun form when you get close, however.
Ananda: “Hmm. Wield again?”
Ananda raises the ZX to her shoulder and sights on the wall. Two hands, if it’s being an SMG.
Kassil: It is retaining a SMG form.
Alasdair summons the blob of Void again.
Kassil: The gun doesn’t seem to respond.
Alasdair steps away, resummons the blob, and approaches again.
Kassil: It still remains a SMG.
Ananda looks nonplussed, but fires a round for curiousity’s sake.
Ananda: (Or a 3-round burst, if that’s the least this model is capable of.)
Kassil: If you’re firing semi-auto, you can fire 1-3 rounds.
Ananda: (Just one, then.)
Alasdair waves the blob at the gun, trying to duplicate the motions he made earlier.
Kassil: The gun barks loudly as Ananda pulls the trigger, and a bullet buries itself in the wall on the far side of the room.
Ananda lowers the ZX and examines the bullet-mark. How’s its power, compared to a normal weapon of similar specs?
Kassil: It seems about like you expect – the hole might be a little deeper than you’d expect. There’s no bullet in the hole, though.
Ananda: “No ammo, no spent shell, and no bullet. Takes a bit of effort to use, though.”
Ananda: “Good enough. Let me pack back up and we can move on.”
Alasdair: “I’d really like to get the gun to change forms again, first. That was odd and intriguing.”
Ananda nods amiably and moves back from the wall again. “I think it won’t change while I’m aiming.”
Ananda lets Alasdair wield first, this time.
Em: an important feature to be sure. so we can tell it wasn’t built by a government
Ananda barks a laugh.
Kassil: The gun doesn’t seem to be interested in changing, currently.
Ananda: “Try something besides Void?”
Alasdair shrugs, “Sure.”
Alasdair summons a fistful of fire and tries the same motions and intent.
Kassil: With Ananda firmly in control of the gun, it doesn’t seem to thinking that shifting form is worth the trouble.
Ananda flicks a fingertip against the barrel of the ZX with a bit of a smile. “Be that way, then.” She shrugs and shakes her head.
Kassil: So…?
Ananda seats her ammunition back in its places. Sides, back, calf pockets. She looks up, “We never did figure out who carries the grenade.”
Ananda quirks an eyebrow at Em, “I shouldn’t have all the fun items.”
Em: Oh no, you seem to crave excitement far more than I do, knock yourself out by all means ….
Kassil: The grenade is sitting quite sedately in the box Ananda packed it in.
Em: Duct tape the pin on it though, whoever carries it. I’ll carry it if no one else feels comfortable with it
Em: since losing me would have the least operational impact on the survivors getting out
Ananda: “I’d rather not have my weapon spontaneously decide that it wants to be a grenade launcher, if it’s all the same to you.”
Em: A good point.
Em duct tapes the pin quite securely and packs it in her pack
Kassil: All right, then.
Kassil: Are you all leaving the apparent AI core?
Alasdair expects this to somehow backfire.
Em: Er, if no one wants to take the core, I’ll take it
Ananda: I was under the impression that the AI core was wired into place?
Alasdair: Is there some obvious way to carry it without risking damaging it severely?
Kassil: Honestly, for all the fragile-electronics vibe it has, it looks like it’s a pretty durable piece of machinery.
Em: Is my understanding of the technology one that upholds this impression? do I need to roll?
Kassil: You could roll an electronics check, sure.
Alasdair: I’ll pack it away in my backpack, then, trying to cushion it as best I can. After Em gives it a once-over.
Kassil: Em, your examination leaves you fairly certain that this is the most complex electronic device you’ve ever seen, using things that are only theory to you. You’re also fairly sure you could potentially shoot it without harming it.
Em: "I’m confident just wrapping it up in a sleeping bag is good enough. whoever made this clearly wanted it to be very robust.
Em: Human brains are quite squishy and vulnerable. someone apparently realized this was a top ten issue to fix
Alasdair: "Good enough for me. "
Em: Must say this is quite a brain 2.0 or 3.0
Kassil: All right, then.
Kassil: What are you doing now?
Alasdair: Head next door, I suppose.
Em: If i understand this correctly, we still have no key or basis to what this map means so we’re wandering around medium danger zones in hope that they have a uniform level of hazard and we can discern all the different types of hazards for a given level?
Ananda waits by the door that they haven’t used yet. She’ll continue when the others are ready.
Kassil: (That assumes every part of the place is accessible. :D)
Alasdair joins Ananda.
Kassil: All right, then. We shall see what turns up in there next session. 160 CDP for this session. :D
Ananda: Is this next door locked?
Ananda: Excellent.
Kassil: The door appears to be slightly ajar, actually.
Kassil: So, next session, you can pop it open. :D
Ananda: Works for me.

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