Eclipse Phase - Cycles

Chapter 2: Plato's Cave

As a GM’s note, this session wasn’t up to my satisfaction due to general exhaustion and a poorly performing muse. So yes, it’s not going to be topnotch and not make much sense as at many points I was struggling for ideas. Next session requires far more prep.

Another note is a new mechanic that is being considered: all active Psi skills can be used freely and will automatically succeed. However, the cost for using them is rolling against a 1d6 dice. The result is then put up against a table of random effects, one of which includes a vision. 5 visions = game over. While this may discourage use, a far greater variety of psi-sleights may be selected than what is available in the book, depending on how the character grows.

The transcription:

We last left Omer in the mines, after suffering the vision and crawling his way back up. The tunnel was re-sealed somehow and he was trapped at which point he passed out.

When he finally awoke, it was around two days later and he was in a Hospital in Olympus. Omer learnt that he had been rescued by Jesse and Maria, who brought him up to the hospital. Though he awoke intact, it was clear from the start that the experience had changed him, as he began to utter random words and phrases about Jupiter and the gate. Maria was by his side, though and more than a bit creeped out, though she didn’t move away.

Omer did feel significantly different, like his mind had been altered. He was capable of perceiving more patterns in the room; a direct consequence of the Watts-Mcleod virus affecting it. Perhaps perturbed or curious, Omer called for a nurse, asking to speak to the doctor that had treated him. She told him the doctor would be along – but that it was good he was up and responsive, given he had come in a catatonic state and had been mumbling randomly through his sleep. Though unsettling, Omer just thanked her and waited for the doctor to arrive.

A brief conversation ensued when he did, where Omer asked if he could leave and what would be needed to do so. The doctor stated that Omer had come in screaming and close to insanity. They had considered psychosurgery, but a drug treatment had calmed him down significantly. During the next two days, he continued to mutter about many things, including pandora gates during his sleep.

When the doctor returned, he mentioned the good news to Omer – that he was in good shape and if he wanted to leave (as Takashai had requested it), he could do so within the next 12 or so hours. The bad news though, was that it was confirmed he had an infection of the watt-Mcleod virus. Though the effects hadn’t manifested yet, he needed to constantly monitor his status in order to make sure he remained healthy.

Either way, Takashai had been pressuring for his early release and for Omer to contact him as soon as possible. After thanking the doctor, he immediately contacted Takashai. The man expressed relief at Omer’s good health. A brief exchange occurred on Omer’s current status and health along with an update on Clementi. The situation was stable there – the mayor had been taken into protective custody but all sightings of the snake had stopped. In addition, investigation found sabotage on the sensors out by the quarantine zone. The source is still unclear – as is the source of the hacker that altered OIA records.

This was a high level operation conducted very carefully. The missing ore shipments too were untraceable, though Takashai had a few leads. The most important thing he had to say though, was that they had found Jack. He was here, in Olympus – and had in fact come to the hospital earlier looking for Omer in specific but had left when not allowed inside.

Jack’s presence had been traced to a nearby dormitory. It was now Omer’s job to track him down and bring him back alive if possible. His cortical stack otherwise. Omer would be issued his standard issue pistol and night stick, but little else since it was a heavily populated Civilian area. Takashai left soon after, leaving Omer alone with Maria till they waited for the drugs to wear out of his system. It was here that Maria in particular seemed to eb very troubled by Omer’s current state, being fearful and hesitant of his presence – likely the ‘taint’ of the Watts-Mcleod virus. This only seemed to amuse Omer more than anything else.

12 hours later, the pair took off onto the streets of Olympus, getting into their car and heading off to the dormitory. It was a fairly large location (image here) with a lot of different transient people living there. Omer pulled up to the dormitory and then headed in, cutting the line for the receptionist, who greeted him politely. Introductions were made, along with Omer asking for Jack’s immediate location and where he stayed. The receptionist stated he had asked for Room 15-D specifically, which was on the far end of the building. Taking the keys, Omer went on into the building.

To get to the actual dorms themselves, Omer had to pass the recreation rooms – where quiet a few people had gathered amidst the X-life displays, VR pods and even the tanks for the more aquatic morphs. As he tried to go into the dorm area, a gorilla morph seated near the entrance blocked his way. The uplift seemed very suspicious of Omer’s presence here and asked a few cursory questions regarding his presence. Omer answered back plainly: he was here to arrest an individual in connection with a possible murder and a threat to Olympus city.

The uplift seemed to be satisfied with this explanation, allowing Omer to pass into the dormitory. He advanced cautiously, despite the corridors being quiet and with little activity. He ordered Maria to try and find Jack’s scent; the German Sheppard leading the way. She got a bit confused though towards one of the intersections, the scents going back and forth. Omer decided to press on, leading the way towards Room 15-D. After a slow approach, he burst into the room, looking for hostiles.

It was surprisingly empty. Not a single soul in sight. Omer immediately searched for clues – using Maria’s scent as well. The initial search found nothing, save trace nanites similar to what he’d seen back in Clementi. Fortunately, Maria caught a scent that went to the shower stall. Jack had definitely been here – and recently, too. Searching around revealed a switch, hidden under the shower head – one that immediately activated a secret elevator built into the shower stall. It lowered down into a fairly dark and long cave built underneath the dormitories. It was well insulated too, as Omer lost contact with the mesh network above, too.

Moving forward cautiously, he entered into the cave – which seemed to meander about. Though dark and foreboding, there was nothing at first. At first there was nothing – but then he came across the wreck of a Synthmorph. Its cortical stack had been shot out a long time ago and had been rusting here for years, clearly. The Bot was in a bit of bad shape, likely the victim fo gang violence or something similar.

Given it was non-responsive, Omer moved on – heading down several bends till he approached a section where his muse predicted he was right under the recreation area of the Dorms. He stopped here a moment, pulling out his gun and filling it with reactive rounds. He fired several rounds experimentally into the ceiling – trying to get any kind of attention from up above. All to no avail. Disappointed, he continued on – taking note that the walls were starting to have distinctively more graffiti on it. Carved on or sprayed on, it reflected several fairly old gang signs – but there were more disturbing words along it, including “It never rests” and “Abandon all hope” written all over it. Strings of codes, many different and strange things.

All of this lead to one particular room – which upon entering, revealed a single bedroll to one side and a door to the other. The graffiti was here as well – but was far more sinister. Blood red, various fortelling of doom and something about the ‘chior’ and abandoning all hope. Even more so were sequences of numbers and symbols – which corresponded to Pandora gate coordinates; identical to the one that Omer had seen in his dream. The sight was disturbing enough that he decided to turn back and head to the elevator again.

As he walked down the cave though, two things happened. The first was that the ceiling where he had fired the rounds collapsed – and right on top of him, no less. Maria managed to escape the collapse, but Omer was trapped underneath. The second was that the synthmorph he had seen earlier in the corridor was now coming up the cave. It moved slow, limping along with barely any speed towards him with the groan of rusted machinery. It was sputtering random phrases to him, many of which illegible – but was clearly alive and moving, despite having the same injuries and rust.

Fortunately, Omer’s hand was free enough to use his pistol. He took careful aim and then blasted the synthmorph’s head open, destroying it permanently. With Maria’s help, he was able to get free and re-examined the synthmorph. Just as before, it still had no cortical stack – and with no mesh network here, there was no way it could have been remote controlled. With this chilling discovery, Omer decided it was time to press onwards – going back was a possibility, but he needed to know more. If Jack was down here somewhere, he had a lot more to answer for now.

Pressing on beyond the room with the graffiti led Omer into another series of winding caves that went deeper underground. It eventually lead to a section directly underneath an empty space listed in the dormitory’s blueprints. This section had an elevator built in – one which was still functional. Maria managed to trace Jack’s scent to here – and it was pretty fresh. Moving into the elevator cautiously, Omer prepared himself for a potential fight as it rose up. As he came to the upper floor though, Omer found himself in a grisly scene.

The space was a secret compartment in the building, one built as a safehouse clearly. It had supplies to last a while, along with communications tech. Jack’s body was here, sitting to one side of the room, the wall behind him plastered with his own blood. In his hand was a pistol, stained with the slyph morph’s blood, while his cortical stack had been blown out. Omer had arrived too late it seems – Jack had taken his own life – or, perhaps had been murdered just like the mayor’s assistant. Figuring this may be the latter, Omer started to conduct a brief forensic investigation.

“You can’t escape it.”

The voice of course, caught him off guard as Jack’s almost severed head looked up, staring at him with dead eyes. Omer’s first gut reaction was to pull his gun and blast him right in the head. The bullet went through, leaving a giant hole in the Sylph’s head – but yet, Jack remained sitting, staring at Omer. He continued on.

“There’s no escaping it. You’ve seen it too, haven’t you? Through the machine. The gate. Once it has you…it doesnt matter where your mind is. You belong to it. Just another voice in the chio-”

He was cut off as Omer fired, loading reactive rounds and shooting several more bullets into the body, which began to flail erratically. After nearly half a dozen rounds, it finally stopped moving, slumping dead for good. Omer stood breathing heavily, still fairly shocked by what happened. Despite what he had learnt, the need to escape was much more pressing. Given the blueprints, the walls around him would be thin – which meant he could leave up through the basement.

What followed was several unsuccessful attempts to escape, including firing bullets at the wall, ramming through it, kicking it and ramming again. Eventually, after expending his reactive rounds on the wall, it weakened enough to let him bash through and into the basement beyond. Grabbing Jack’s body, Omer headed on up out of the basement, intent on getting the hell out and done with this.

As he came up into the corridor, he spotted three individuals in ruster morphs, talking amidst each other. His approach got more than a few startled gasps of surprise and shock – including recognition from one of the three – a male that immediately exclaimed in surprise about Jack. Omer immediately questioned the trio, asking them what they knew.

It seems Jack had come here a day or two ago to stay with a ‘friend’ in room 15-D. The others had met him and he seemed to be a nice person, but none knew him very well beyond the fact that he occasionally showed up to eat or hang out in the rec room. He had been fairly secretive and stayed to himself. Everyone though the had left when he didn’t show up today – but the shock and horror only got stronger when Omer mentioned the fact that there were tunnels under the dormitory. They expressed disbelief and Omer told them to check it out themselves by pressing the tile on the room.

They left, checking it out for themselves and leaving Omer to head on out. As he stepped into the rec area though, the fact that he came in with a body immediately turned a lot of heads his way – including that of the gorilla morph that had stopped him earlier. Said gorilla was now quiet angry, hurling curses and shouting at Omer about the kind of trouble he’d bring now. The entire dorm would be searched because he killed someone and a body came in, ruining ‘it’ for everyone else.

Omer attempted to calm the man down – but as things escalated, the gorilla attacked. Though he landed a good hit on Omer, Maria managed to come out from the side and surprised him, allowing Omer to get a few shots off with his pistol at point blank. Fortunately he was using plastic rounds, which were non-lethal – and just enough to take out the enraged beast. Looking up to the crowd in the rest of the room that was staring on, Omer reassured them that everything was alright, explaining the situation. Fortunately, nobody else tried to stop his departure as he stepped out and to the reception area.

Here, he seentialyl just dumped Jack’s still bleeding body right onto the very surprised receptionist’s desk. She stared at it in shock – which was thankfully allayed as he described the situation and ordered her to call OIA to pickup the body for Autopsy. With that, Omer left the dormitory, contacting Takashai from his buggy.

The conversation was brief as what happened was exchanged – though Omer left out the part of the synthmorph and jack moving after death. Given the lead was now a dead end, he asked if Takashai had recovered any other ifnormation yet. The officer replied yes, he had. They had managed to track down both the Ore and Fazad. The latter was on a freighter – the Annastasia – currently docked on the other side of the space elevator in Deimos. It was scheduled to leave soon. Fazad meanwhile was in Noctis. OIA was getting some strange reports from the city – a strange virus or phenomena had led to an reports of madness and suicides there. It was likely just a random spike in numbers; but the coincidence with current events was simply too close.

Given the freighter was far more time critical, Omer decided to go to it first, setting course to the space elevator. He requested to be cut loose from OIA, as he needed to take leave and do this investigation off the grid. Takashai agreed, given the high level of hacking that had occured at OIA it was probably for the best. There was still no trace of the hacker either. Arrangements were made for regular contacts once or twice a week to update on situations. Omer would be now on official leave, but would be allowed to keep his current gear, as well as a forward bit of pay to get more.

With that, Omer set course for the space elevator. He made contact with a few black market agents on Deimos in order to pick up better weapons. The session ended with him getting onto the space elevator and beginning the 12 hour journey up.

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