Adventure vignettes

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Adventure vignettes

A game I suggested in but perhaps best handled as its own thread: post a link to a picture, and write a short EP adventure synopsis, scene or gadget based on it.

Some starters:

The RoboRaces of Valles New Shanghai combine monster truck racing with what can only be described as bloodsports. I find the crowds distasteful - there is an eagerness for something to go deadly wrong, a hint of the fear and awe of the Great Machine combined with the lust to see it crushed and humiliated as a punishment for the Fall. There are statistically fewer synthmorphs present than would be expected.

Still, there is plenty of money to be made. From the recycling of broken parts and repairs to the facilities to the top jobs of designing the new AIs and memes to go with them (you think someone like TREX800 is just made? He is a whole marketing package, with a personality finely tuned to the mechandise and vice versa) Robojockeys guide or control the bots, the construction crews run the massive assembly fabbers, crowd psychologists keep everybody happy. Even the rodeo clowns make good money.

Yet, there is always someone who is disgruntled. And when I find him, her or it, they will be the cornerstone of my revenge. It is so simple and sweet, and just involves a small data package being placed on the inside where it will bloom and affect certain AIs. Valles will never know what hit it, and I will show the world what real audience participation means.

Strangely, the gerontocrat's revenge on Zhang consisted of playing music. It took a while before I realized that his investigators had uncovered an old psychosurgery file from the man's youth. Reverse engineering it, his assistants found a way of repeatedly triggering all the traumas it locked away by playing the a particular piece of music.

He said: "Don't worry about our bargain. I will let our young friend go tomorrow: I won't keep him imprisoned." He kept his word too.

What he didn't tell me was that the meal just before the musical torture had been dosed with MEM35, a drug strongly enhancing auditory memory. With musical hallucinations as a common side effect. Zhang threw himself out the airlock a few days later. His backups had all been updated to after the evening: he deleted them too.

The Facade synthmorphs were intentionally depersonalized, with their nonhuman expressionless faces and inorganic-looking black skin. According to story, they were designed for the retinue of an industrialist with a nasty case of Aspergers. But after the Fall, they became popular among a Venusian engineer subculture and their gatecrasher offshoot: the "face" could easily be upgraded with high resolution sensors, the synthskin had tactile performance better than most biomorph skin, and there were of course the usual synthmorph advantages. Still, "blackface" gatecrashers were often looked down upon, until the incident on Moravec.

What are your vignettes?


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The destruction of USS Gaffan during the Fall largely went unremarked: another early causality of the kinetic kill devices spewed out by the subverted autofactories near Adrastea. The wreckage - mostly fine fragments - continued in an extreme orbit around the planet, returning every few years. This time salvage workers from Callisto were accidentally in the vicinity and made a rendezvous to see if they could pick up anything. They found a hero.

Commander Philip R.E. Wilson was one of the big US war heroes. He made his name during the Second Panama Conflict, and then participated in the first operation against Zeus Station where he personally led the rear guard action. That he got heroically killed while saving the fleeing civilians burnished his reputation further. After the Fall his example - and somewhat conservative politics - has been held up by the Jovian Republic as a paragon of humanity.

It was just that Commander Wilson was thrown away from the ship as it exploded, and he had a cortical stack. The Callisto workers checked the stack identity and realized they had paydirt. This was the life and last moments of a great hero. The Republic would no doubt want to get it at any price. So would Hyoden. Now, how to sell this find and remain alive and free?

Of course, the contents might be just degraded noise due to radiation exposure. Or the stack may contain the last thoughts of a great hero as he stoically reviews his life. Or a scared man soiling his suit after he hopelessly jumped ship a second before it blew up behind him. He might be a greater-than-life hero returning to the bioconservative cause, or someone horrified by what his compatriots have created and outspoken in his criticism. Or he is a clever forgery organized by the ID crew to con rich governments. Nobody knows until the stack is fully reactivated.


Monican Monican's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Jasken Wong, a local journalism student at University of Mars, had a hot tip that a Triad boss had just been iced at an intersection in Little Shanghai. He got there as fast as he could, but the local militia had already cordoned off the crime scene with AR beacons, motion sensitive and able to tag anyone crossing them with a misdemeanor warrant.

Jasken allowed himself to be scanned by the patrol bot, but it rejected his credentials as a journalism student. The smell of motor oil, hot noodles, and ever-present Martian dust filled the air and almost masked the sick undercurrent of explosive smoke and biomorph blood.

Monican Monican's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

(lol @ the table breaking. Sorry about that, but it's worth it!)

Near Elysium in the Martian northlands, paparazzi have made good use out of the Alpiner morphs to try and capture a few lucrative photos of inner-system celebrities as they come and go from the cliffside docks. The recently terraformed high-altitude forests nearby provide just barely enough cover for a long-range optical camera to be mounted and wait, patiently, for the moment when a high F-rep celeb steps out into the clear air. With nothing more than a barebones AI and good facial recognition software loaded onto each camera, a well equipped blogger can stake out numerous points of entry and try to get those lucrative photos.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

She had the Tongue, and she certainly knew how to use it. But I had a job to do, and had to make her an offer she better not refuse. My employer wanted all of the six gamgak morphs Lee Kau had grown back in the days of the Fall. I did not know why he wanted the tricked-out art morphs, but I suspected it was not merely aesthetics. Still, they were each gorgeous. I bagged the Eye on Venus, booting out the playboy that inhabited it after he had refused my business (and amorous) advances. I knew Skin was on Mars, inhabited by the wife of a Cognite exec - that one would be tricky.

Suddenly I was brought back to reality when the demons on her tongue moved. A devil raised his trident against me threateningly. I did not expect that functionality. I was even more surprised when I saw a trail of golden figures on my skin where she had licked, starting to move as if feeling their way around a new world.

"Mister, you have no clue what you are entangled in." she said, a delighted and cruel smile showing the craftsmanship of her lips.


Monican Monican's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

(I get many of my images from and , all credit goes to the artists of course!)

The gate facility on Oberon, in the small canyon outpost of Chat Noir, houses the Fissure Gate. Named after the geological features of its location, the Fissure Gate facility has been the spore around which a city of adventurers, SCUM, scientists, radical freethinkers, and anarchists has arisen like a speck of mold on Oberon's cold face.

Being mostly underground in such a low gravity environment allows the interior architecture of the facility to be very vertically spacious. A large opening in this cavern allows large cargo to be shipped up and down between the surface and the guarded hangars deep below. Lightweight passenger tugs and landers can dock like bats on the scaffolds hanging down from the ceiling, and even the weakest splicer can climb up easily to the catwalks on the ceiling and from there attend to their business in the facility.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

We found the war machine in the ruins of Plausibility, a former industrial installation in western Lucus Planum. Kim had been buzzing ahead of us and quickly went into reverse when they saw it; I have seldom seen a dragonfly move that quick. We took up defensive positions and expected to die. When nothing happened we used the most low-emission sensor drones we could get to sneak a peek.

The war machine looked complete and functional. In fact, it looked positively new. There was no dust on it, and parts shone with a 'newly nanofabbed' look. Yet the footsteps it had left had been mostly erased by wind. It was just standing there looking at something shining.

"Let's sneak in a bomb" Huang1 suggested.

"Too risky. Let's just avoid it." Huang2 was always a bit more cautious.

"What the heck is it doing?" Erich wondered. He was manoeuvring the sensor to get a better look.

"Maybe it is waiting for instructions, or receiving them?"

"Most of the fighters were entirely autonomous. They would have made up their own plan if they didn't receive one from their overlords."

"Erich, what do you see? Erich?"

Erich was staring out into space, not responding. Just when we were started to exchange worried glances he looked at us. "Sorry, pals. Just got caught up. Some sort of map schematics. No problems. Fragmented."


Erich just silently began to recall his drones. He looked distracted, like he was solving a hard problem in his head.

"Please, could you show us the 'map'?"

"Sure, no problem" Erich said as he turned the defence swarm against us. "The data quality is a bit bad, but I can interpolate." I desperately dodged a salvo from the pinstripe drone and tried to override the changed IFF codes. I found myself rolling down a scree slope towards the area with the war machine.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The insertion plan was, as always when Those In The Know designed it, flawless and utterly terrifying. Three weeks before our ship had embedded itself in a cometary nucleus en route towards Jupiter. Broken apart on the last pass (I wondered whether They had had anything to do with the exact orbit even then) into a string of fragments, it would plunge into Jupiter Shoemaker-Levy style. At first it was merely a boring wait. As Jupiter began to grow at an accelerating rate it became more tense. And now, we were seeing fragment after fragment hit the gaseous wall ahead with gigaton explosions. One mistake and we would be vapour too.

Everything hinged on the fragment ahead hitting at the right moment. Then we could start our motors and blast off under the cover of the bright light from the previous - all sensors pointed in our direction would be blinded for a moment, and we would have enough delta-v to just barely miss the planet. Those In The Know had never failed before... that we knew of.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The rainbow tulips were awful kitsch, just the kind of too colourful and earnest bio experimentation you got from scum barge hackers. I knew the proprietor would soon be gushing about his psychedelic-looking psychedelic mushrooms, or maybe even some "enhanced" space roaches with a variant of the old squid chromophore module. So far behind the curve that it was almost moving: these guys did not keep up.

Then I saw the baby.

He was drinking from his mother, a nondescript exalt (clearly a stolen design with no customizations; her bright blue irides lacked all structure). The pattern of logos looked entirely out of place here - commercial, sternly black, wildly retro. When I asked the proprietor he was reticent at first, but eventually said

"My daughter's child was cursed by Hulme, after she rejected his advances. I have tried to cure the condition, but true to their nature, those marks are dependency forming. They find a biomolecule and start producing it, making the rest of the body stop. So if they are removed, the person will get sick."

I noticed the EU logo around her breast. This nanoinfection was clearly at least mildly contagious. Well, I had no clue where Hulme - whoever or whatever he was - had got it from, but I knew I had to have it.

"How much for the baby?"


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The factor representative had made an effort, that was true. It had shaped itself (or perhaps been shaped, I was never really sure how much the aliens were manufacturing individuals to order) to be roughly bipedal and with eyes on the "head". I could overlook the extra arms and absurd fingers. But it still smelled of mildewy peaches and truckstop restrooms. I was very glad I had my heavy environment suit with my tweaked air freshener lining.

"Hail (bring-us (knight (Jovian, doughty)) (the stars))!" it roared through a badly calibrated translation interface.

This was going to be a long trip.


Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

I'm in! Plus, in honour of Panopticon... (Yes, I know, it's a video...)

The taste of the nano-goo is still on my tongue. You can't get that taste out of your mouth until you eat something, but you can't eat until the vat-goo has worked its way out of your system. At least the drawing is distracting...

I hate her. I hate her, hate her, hate her. I hate what she does to me, to everyone. This is the third time I've resleeved this year. Sure, they're just cheap synths, I can fab another one in a few hours, but it's still a pain in the ass, and it never gets any less uncomfortable when she tears off a leg. She promises she'll get her temper under control, but it happens anyway! I'm done! Done with her, for good this time!

Then again... Maybe I'm being too harsh... Maybe next time, I'll tell her off.

[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Zircon morph

With the Zircon Skinthetics was trying to make synthmorphs something you could wear to a party: a glittering faceted crystal skin, reflecting and refracting light in brilliant flashes. It largely failed to catch on, although Rhea McRabin did sleeve in one. It was a bit too much a gimmick and a bit too mechanical in its look to appeal to the glitterati.

In many ways it is a shame, since the Zircon was a (excuse the pun) brilliant morph. The basic chassis shares much with the later Steel morphs; in fact, so much that it might have been reverse engineered by the lunarians. The skin is a very clever nanocomposite that has folding facets to make it flexible despite its hardness, and carries an extremely subtle protective covering giving full sense of touch – yes, this morph is fully functional when it comes to sensual activities, despite its appearance. The coating both prevents the facets from cutting your partner and your partner from smudging you. The skin is also good armour on its own, especially against energy weapons.

As you can tell, I am hoping it will one day make a comeback. It is not quite old enough to be stylishly retro, but I do hope the members of Chrome Freedom consider it as an option.
- Khentkaus III, Morph Reviewer

Zircon Morph
Enhancements: Access Jacks, Basic Mesh Inserts, Cortical Stack, Cyberbrain, Eidetic Memory, Mnemonic Augmentation
Mobility System: Walker (4/20)
Aptitude Maximum: 30
Durability: 40
Advantages: +10 SOM, +5 SAV, +5 to two other aptitudes of player’s choice, Armor with refractive glazing and lotus coating (11/8)
Disadvantages: -10 on attempts to hide due to glitter.
CP Cost: 55
Credit Cost: Expensive (minimum 50,000+)


Axel the Chimeric Axel the Chimeric's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Dents Longues never stops being a sight to see. Not many people arrive to Europa by the surface these days, except to send down supplies. Not me, though. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned.

Hell of a thing to see; one of the first ever major off-world colonies beyond the asteroid belt. Ambitious as all-hell and she's still held up through the years. It's no bathysphere; got no giant shell over it. No, this place started as a research facility and the buildings just grew and grew. It's a business hub, a gambling town, and one of the few places you can buy a good cigarette on this world.

She's a shining jewel beneath the ice; the pearl of Europa.

[@-rep +1, f-rep +2]

Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

It is truly a city of rapture! If you go and visit there, be ready for the (bio)shock of your life, that will make your cry for your (Big) Daddy!

In the same genre of idea, a Venusian born phyle of Old America bioconservative and xenophobic nostalgics had the idea to create a network of aerostats, named the Washington Concordia and designed in the architectural style of the early 20th Century America, with lots of Art Nouveau statues, with light materials to stay afloat among the clouds, as far as possible from the new born Morning Star Constellation. They were linked together by a railroad web of maglev transportation and AR skinning and overlays.

Everything was going more or less okay in this uchronical utopia until someone arrived with (or released) the Wyatt McLeod Strain. Among them one (or more) of the players (preferably with the female ID Gender, but also the mayor governor of the Washington Concordia, whom
took a rather unhealthy interest on the Async pc. With the Concordia placed under quarantine, will the player characters be able to escape this now doomed 'paradise' ?

Q U I N C E Y ^_*_^ F O R D E R

Remember The Cant!

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

"My child, do you see the Earth?"


"Earth. That was our home."


"Yes. I grew up there. The sky was blue, there was wind, as much space as you could wish for."

"Wanna pint-bugga."

"Huh? Remember, that planet is your heritage. It is YOURS. We will reclaim it one day for you."

"Pint-bugga. Bugga-bugga!"


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The facility smelled dry and plastic, a good sign. You don't want to smell mould or decay in a bodybank. But the machinery was *old* - modular panels, pipes, encrustations of sensors. All signs that this was a pre-nanotech facility. Maybe this was what had saved it during the Fall: too few advanced processors to subvert, hardly any automation. The morphs looked viable. A bit pale, but clearly alive and still linked to the facility egobus system. The software was clunky and only accessible from consoles, but not too different from my briefing.

As I began to set up my program a feeling of disquiet slowly spread. I tried to pinpoint it. Most statistics were in the acceptable range, that was not a problem. A quick check in the logs proved that I was the first visitor in over 12 years - all seals were intact. 12 years... realization dawned. Even with modern life support a morph kept in liquid suspension for a long time starts to bloat up: water diffusion into collagen, skin mis-adapting to the liquid environment. The morphs looked *fresh*. Too fresh.

As I looked up from the console the male morph across the room opened his eyes and looked back at me.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

“They can’t evict us! We’re in space!” Nergal was raging across the suit mesh.

“Think again. They can easily put a cargo module in a “lawful” intersecting orbit, and if we don’t move out of the way we are a traffic hazard the Batteries can fire on.”

Of course, the real reason the consortium wanted 777 out of the way was that they were uncomfortable with a scum barge orbiting Mars. Memetic pollution, the constant reminder that there might be other lifestyles, the inconvenience of a dissenting voice in the orbital consensus.

Jamie was more concerned with how to actually pull the move off. The barge had grown over the years, using discarded fuel tanks, scrap metal and girders glued together by cheap nanoswarms. He did not trust the structural stability even against the puny acceleration the ion engine would provide. He knew the Consortium planned on this. A spectacular failure where they had to rush in and save those childish but soon to be civilized colonists would be a PR coup. And if they didn’t even manage to change orbit, then they would have to accept an evacuation that would likely put the lot of them in indenture. His calculations better be *right*…

“What the heck is that?”

“That... shouldn’t be here…” With a sinking feeling Jamie realized that the situation had just got even more complicated and urgent.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

When we approached it became clear that the orbital factory was online. Very online.

"How the pabex could they get it up and running so soon?!" exclaimed Gensym07 angrily. The young AGI had apparently decided to run a teenager personality overlay today.

"Cirri's team are pretty good. I know they did restoration work for the Xang-Olafsen Foundation around Mercury a while ago."

"They are good, but not *that* good. I know for certain the main reactor was not just off-line but in near-terminal fail-safe mode. Just look at how it shines with neutrinos. Maybe they are stiffing us using a ship engine they brought with them, or it is that bastard Shin..."

I did a double-take at the neutrino map that scrolled by in Gensym's litany. Lots of neutrinos, sure, but *tau* neutrinos instead of electron neutrinos. And they came from the main cargo space, not the reactor module - despite it glowing red hot with a nearly overloaded cooling system.

It was just like one of those fixation pictures where you look and look and nothing makes sense, and then suddenly you realize what you are seeing, all the pieces fitting in. Except that this one was in reverse: what looked like a suddenly active factory wasn't. I saw cargo being moved or thrown through space. Beams of ions focused on external objects, visibly building them. Shapes moving behind clouds of ionized gas that looked like exhaust but moved suspiciously directionally. And fragments of what might have been Cirri's ship being disassembled by robotic tugs.

"Oh shit... GET US OUT OF HERE NOW!!!"


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

"Depth 102,200 and holding. Plumes right ahead."

"Roger. Go on bearing 43, and prepare to avoid isostructures."

We were taking a roundabout way, almost as if we were afraid of going there straight and becoming disappointed. Following the meandering labyrinth of the undersea cathedral towards its hidden centre. Hoping... and fearing what we might find.

"I get yttrium pings, temperature stable."

"Back clear, last sonar echo at 54.2/440.3"

The XP recording we had got from Derek had been noisy and with some segments strangely edited - maybe to protect his privacy, or of his unknown passengers. But it showed the way he had taken well enough. Most of the circumventions were to ensure that nothing could follow us.

"Coming to an opening... oh holy lord!"

My sub emerged into the space and I was equally in awe. The lithoderm reef extended for tens of kilometres above and under us, but it had refused to grow into this chamber. Bioluminescence cast a mild glow across it. Huge arcs and slabs that might be previously unseen lifeforms or parts of the technical complex surrounded the central point. Blacker than black. A gate. A gate in the Jupiter system. Our gate, if we could hold it.

"I'm getting Cherenkov radiation. The gate is active! Something is coming through!"


nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Arenamontanus wrote:

When we approached it became clear that the orbital factory was online. Very online.

"How the pabex could they get it up and running so soon?!" exclaimed Gensym07 angrily. The young AGI had apparently decided to run a teenager personality overlay today.

"Cirri's team are pretty good. I know they did restoration work for the Xang-Olafsen Foundation around Mercury a while ago."

"They are good, but not *that* good. I know for certain the main reactor was not just off-line but in near-terminal fail-safe mode. Just look at how it shines with neutrinos. Maybe they are stiffing us using a ship engine they brought with them, or it is that bastard Shin..."

I did a double-take at the neutrino map that scrolled by in Gensym's litany. Lots of neutrinos, sure, but *tau* neutrinos instead of electron neutrinos. And they came from the main cargo space, not the reactor module - despite it glowing red hot with a nearly overloaded cooling system.

It was just like one of those fixation pictures where you look and look and nothing makes sense, and then suddenly you realize what you are seeing, all the pieces fitting in. Except that this one was in reverse: what looked like a suddenly active factory wasn't. I saw cargo being moved or thrown through space. Beams of ions focused on external objects, visibly building them. Shapes moving behind clouds of ionized gas that looked like exhaust but moved suspiciously directionally. And fragments of what might have been Cirri's ship being disassembled by robotic tugs.

"Oh shit... GET US OUT OF HERE NOW!!!"

Care to explain the puzzle for those of us without the scientific knowledge to know why tau neutrinos instead of electron neutrinos is significant?

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Someone taps on my shoulder as I'm standing on the outside dock of the St Carmichael. Generally the temperature at this altitude in the Venusian atmosphere is a pleasing 75°F, but as we are drifting on the terminator zone, in a month long dusk, the temperature is much colder, and much darker, the sun poking through the clouds just above the horizon.

"You're the one who can get me aboard that ship to Octavia?"
D'hu, man, I'm the only morph standing outside, except that group of wusses waiting the end of the shift in the prefab shack. I'm just that Olympian sleeved bloke leaning on that hand rail.
"Yeah, that's me. But I'm fairly certain this ship isn't going anywhere before tomorrow morning after we're clear of this cloud."

The wannabe stowaway pulled down the hood of the coat, and air stuck in my throat. This has to be the most gorgeous morph I've seen in my life. I'm not up to date with the latest models, but this one HAS to be a Sylph...with cat biomods. Curvaceous, piercing yet soft, pleading, golden eyes, ears twitching in nervosity on the top of her head poking from long back hair with a blue highlight, and tone of the skin. Stunning!
That's when I notice something a tag in AR, signaling the Morph to be stolen.
Suddenly, before I could utter a word, something pierced through her chest. It made a clicking sound, and then, in the blink of an eye, she was yanked backward and disappeared in the mist, leaving me, alone and dumbfounded
What the hell just happened?!
Already, the surface of my smart suit was dissolving the blood strains. And the floor surface's built-in nanites were doing the same. Soon, no trace of this mysterious kitten has ever been here.
Was she?


The rear door of the hovering limo opened, and a lith form entered the velvet draped vehicle, and the hood dissolved in the collar. Short stock white hair, blood red eyes shining with malice
"We have her, sir."
The man in front of her smiled and inhaled from his cigar, held in, then exhaled.
"Good. And her contact?" he asked
"I was in his mind and made sure he forgot, or at the very least believe he dreamed the encounter."
the man, in the obese Exalt, nodded. She wondered how he could let such an excellent morph go to such waste.
"Good." he replied. "I hate to see my dolls running away with their work tool, and I don't want to see more money spent on your Futura just for fooling around."
the Lost laughed softly with a tinge of madness "wouldn't dream of it, sir."
with his cane the man tapped the window right behind his driver, and the vehicle took off, vanishing in the clouds.

Q U I N C E Y ^_*_^ F O R D E R

Remember The Cant!

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

nick012000 wrote:
Care to explain the puzzle for those of us without the scientific knowledge to know why tau neutrinos instead of electron neutrinos is significant?

The kind of neutrinos you get from nuclear reactions depend on the type of nuclear reaction. Fission and fusion produces electron neutrinos; if you see taus, then whatever is powering the station is something *weird*.

The ship engines were rumbling at maximum as we approached perijove. The explanation of why Oberth manoeuvres were so good had always escaped me, too much math. I left that to the navigators. But I knew that it was hell to get to your fighter due to the slightly shifting acceleration; I always made sure to be strapped in long before we got close. Which explains my current predicament: I had been at the head - you want that if you have to wait in a fighter for hours without moving - when somebody pranked me. A transparent tranq patch on the seat, and I was out of it. When Phil found me we were already well into the manoeuvre and I was in deep trouble. Not as deep shit as certain pranksters would be in when I found them, of course.

"Launch 1, 2, 4, 6!" the intercom blared as I rushed through the prep room. As I made personal best on getting into a flight suit I watched the image on the wall screen from one of our flotilla of sensors. Suddenly I stopped, an icy realization tearing through the remaining tranq mist.

The trajectories were wrong. Instead of angling forward, exploiting our increasing velocity they were going sideways. The nav thrusters were shooting 90 degrees out of phase. All of them. Sabotage.

I could just watch as the fighter main engines automatically came online, sending them all on hopeless trajectories. Too many different vectors to attempt a rescue. The lucky ones would end up thrown clear of Jupiter, slowly dying in space. The unlucky ones would burn up in the atmosphere while being crushed by gravity and pressure. Or maybe it was the other way around.

I might not be the smartest on the ship, but I am fast. I immediately saw that the prime suspect would be somebody with access to the fighter control systems. Someone of slightly dodgy political convictions. Who didn't get into one of the doomed fighters. Someone just like me. The tranq patch story? Rather suspect as an excuse. And only one witness.

I didn't bother getting out of the flight suit as I rushed out: I had to catch Phil before he did whatever he was setting up.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The Bahadur nanovirus appeared near the end of the Fall, in a few Martian communities and onboard the refugee ship Abdus Salam, bound for Venus. The initial effects are similar to melder and petrifier - the conversion of tissue into fullerene fibers and graphene compounds, combined with extreme lethargy. However, it is far more precise and rarely causes lethal organ failure. Rather it converts parts of the body into artificial structures, typically weapons and sensors. The central nervous system is replaced with a robust nanocomputing core: the victims are literally converted into biological robots. At the end of the process, typically 20 hours later, they become fully active. They appear to run a dense tacnet linked to remote command capabilities, making them an effective person-to-person fighting force.

Analysis: the virus appears to be tuned for infiltrating and attacking/controlling civilian biomorph communities. The weaponry and armour are relatively light and usually not a match for a properly equipped military force. However, as demonstrated in the Abdus Salam recordings it is more than enough to overwhelm a normal community and coerce it into compliance. The late appearance suggests either that earlier nanoviruses were tentative steps towards the Bahadur and it proved hard for its creators to develop, or that it reflected a shift in strategy from extermination to control.

The sample acquired from FLAMMABLE SYNCHRONIZATION has proven viable, and has been demonstrated to be able to develop fully in standard biomorphs. Attempts at inserting control mechanisms are underway.


Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

mars, 2580 by ~shardanas on deviantART

At the Sky Fall Party

Artemesia listened with decreasing attention to Mahalath as her muse read off the pharmacopeia's menu. Its advice on dress, shoes, coiffure, and cosmetics hadn't been good either. Arriving at the party already high might attract even more attention than indulging in obvious envy, and that really didn't serve her goals.

Just the minimum time needed to make the rounds, see the whack, be seen, and go back home before the sycophants and wastrels start acting out for the XP audience.

The flight from Elysium City to the viewing grounds Cheloki had built for this year's latest cometary impact offered decent views of the Martian landscape. Artemesia saw the bubble well off on the horizon, even before the car's navigation feed made the destination obvious. Local air traffic control guided her well around the bubble enclosing the generic Pan-Asian Revival temple, and that ensured a number of well-considered views of the pocket habitat. Its green and brown colors made a vivid contrast against the reds and oranges of the chasma, and the bubble material tinted the Martian sky seen through it to an almost Earthly blue.

Trust Sergei Cheloki to combine the sublime with the gauche. And to think he had that custom-made! How does he expect to turn a profit with that kind of expense?

After landing and descending into a subsurface hangar, Artemesia passed through pro forma security as fast as she could walk. Identity checks, full-body scanning, key exchange for the local Mesh, and now her assigned bodyguard, a stocky Asian male morph, tagged with Direct Action enoptics, walked up to her.

"Thank you for coming, Madame. If you'll follow me, I'll escort you to the announcement line. Oh, and please don't shoot anyone--you have me to do that for you." A quick grin broke the man's professional demeanor.

Artemesia thought about her implant laser, and wondered why the man had that line so well-rehearsed.

Within the habitat, Artemesia found herself impressed against her prejudices by the one-way transparency of the temple walls and roof. You could clearly see to the horizon from any interior point. Only the vegetation appeared against the sky. The method worked seamlessly even to her rebuilt eyes, which argued for its high cost.

I wonder how that effect's done? Mahalath--oh, never mind, it doesn't matter. Cheloki's money and reputation, and may he piss it all away.

She prowled about the periphery of the crowd, making only the most polite small talk with anyone, and trying very hard to ignore Sergei Cheloki, the host, and Reno Bray, his current paramour and executive assistant. Cheloki's extravagant snake skin coat, supposedly pre-Fall leather, made him hard to overlook. Bray's risqué clothing eased that effort, but her cloud of admirers obscured the view of the Slyph's curves. The woman's reputation had recently risen with the increasing popularity of the "Land of the Ten Suns" simulspace.

You're welcome to that success, Ms. Bray. My consulting services enabled it, and your royalty payments to me continue in perpetuity.

Artemesia found a more or less comfortable seat grown into the vegetation climbing up the bubble's southern face. Mahalath made a nagging comment about radiation exposure. She ignored it and also ignored the slight sense of cold that came from sitting so close to the outside. She settled herself into the seat, summoned a flying drone over and selected a fresh drink, closed her eyes, then ignored her bodyguard. She listened carefully and paid attention to the queerly reflected sound carried to her by the tiny habitat's curved interior. Snatches of conversation faded in and out, even to her better hearing, as groups moved about the tiny volume. She forked, short-term and pairwise, to both listen to and to track the speakers.

"...So what? A five kilometer impactor like this one might raise a pressure a little, and deliver a little water. One down, and hundreds more to go..."

" other words, no. You still run into the problem of securing another soletta constellation. This solution of making them small and ineffective wastes time and resources and goodwill. Aerial lenses make that system work, but good luck getting..."

"...up 27 points, can you imagine? Just for the half-dozen reviews I did on her last flash-event, yeah, the ritual at the Elysium City park. I just literally walked into it, and now--here am I with the great..."

"...if you don't want to indebt Mars to the outer system then you have no reason to refuse nuclear mining of volatile beds. The planet's empty, the technology's known, and they work better the bigger the yield. We've had them since what, in the old calendar?"

", I hear bad things about Sterling Silver. A larchymogen might get popular among old people who remember Earth, but I don't have time to mourn, you understand. I know one of the Cognite board members got invited, a real immortal, so I guess the fabbers have that for his sake."

Well, well, well. An oligarch at Cheloki's little soirée? Not such a dull waste after all, this. I so rarely meet anyone older than me.

Artemesia sipped her drink and reintegrated her selves. She stood, stretched, tossed her glass over the platform's side, and rejoined the crowd below.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Adam Benton

The fliers were swooping dangerously low, playing some kind of aerial hide-and-seek. Probably running an AR game despite the restrictions, Mary thought. Sooner or later one of them would crash and the Elders would step in on the fun. Typical boys. She preferred to do her illicit games - let's admit it, life isn't worth living if you are not breaking some rules - more subtly.

She checked her traps. A few shots, but nothing too interesting. The Experia guy stumbling in an amusing way on a mild incline, obviously not used to the heavy gravity and Coriolis force. Granddad's notions about rearing his family in a "real" environment were about as odd as his ideas of fishing. Sure, they might have the bones and reflexes to handle Earth, but everybody on Opardes were used to the pretty tough Coriolis forces and bizarre perspectives that came with living in a small O'Neill spun up by Reclaimer ideology. They would be as lost on Earth as the offhab exec... probably even more so, since here they were shielded from any "distracting" influences. She knew better. She had learned to pierce the blocks on the news feeds and the monitoring of her muse before she could read. She knew things about the place of Opardes, Graddad and their projects the others would not understand.

She examined whether the hedge had got something. Her listening aphids and subverted leafbots were her own quiet counter-move against Granddad and what he represented. She had made contact with outsiders who were very interested in information from the interior. The trade was currently little more than surveillance gossip, but she knew they would soon begin to test her loyalty and suitability. She was not fooled the least by the misdirection as a nanoecologist blogging network: this was at least a trans-polity intelligence service. Let them think she was a useful tool; she was gathering information and resources for her own ends. She had learned more from Granddad than anybody suspected.

She could hardly wait to become a teenager.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

by Gate-To-Nowhere

Orchid is covered to 80% by oceans and most of the continents are low and swampy. The day is just 13 hours long, the axial tilt is 45 degrees and the average temperature 24 degrees C. One of the effects of this is the appearance of many hurricanes: tropical depressions easily turn into hurricanes, which are fuelled by the heat of warm seawater and the strong Coriolis effect. As they whip around the planet they build in strength until they dissipate in the polar regions. Occasionally the heat is enough to reach hypercane strength, making them affect weather across entire hemispheres and potentially circulating around the entire planet.

The local plants have adapted to the hurricanes, storm surges and thunderstorms by a very rapid lifecycle and aerial dispersal. Bubbleblooms simply inflate hydrogen bladders, while many other plants seed using ripped off leaves.

Transhuman explorers are urged to keep connected to the satnet at all time: the weather patterns are fiercely changeable and rescue fliers cannot handle the storm conditions. If you are stranded in the lowlands when a hurricane is approaching the best approach is to try to burrow into the silt. To try to escape using a cloud of bubbleblooms like Zero Khan did is not advisable.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The habitat control AIs were housed in a ring of underwater sculptures. Or rather, sleeved in immobile morphs. To visit them you had to download into a free morph and join their eerie discussion, feeling fishes and invertebrates on your stone skin. Go figure, when the designer of your technosphere was Xu Nesta. You pay the price for awesomeness with inconvenience and danger.

I had explained the situation to the AIs, and they agreed with my rough assessment. It was just that they refused to do anything.

"Yes, the Jovians will come and attempt to subdue us. That is their prerogative."

"But we have no defences whatsoever! We need to either nanofacture something, get allies, or move the damn habitat!"

"We will do no such thing."

"But the habitat needs to be protected! Isn't that what you were made for?"

"We were created to be the guardians of the habitat. That is not the same thing."

"What use is a guardian who doesn't protect?!"

"A guardian is not a soldier. Or farmer."

"Quit riddling and do something! I'm leaving." I tried to desleeve, but the command bounced. I ran a few diagnostics and discovered that my statue morph had just received an update patch that disabled the function.

External communications were also down, and an ego log made me suspect the AIs had sent a delta of me back to talk to the others. I could just stand there in the circle of the gnomic AIs, trapped in stone flesh and seaslime.

"We *have* done something. You will stay and watch, as a witness and representative of the transhumans of this habitat."

There was something in the resonance of that voice, and the changing ping times in the local mesh that suggested the local computing infrastructure was changing. Rapidly. Profoundly.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Her armour was of a kind I had never seen before. She was a black smudge, absorbing every shred of light that hit her - including my lasers. Definitely not metamaterials: when I shifted to my heavy armorpiercers they ripped through her, creating splashes of monochromatic light patterns but apparently passing through her without damage. It was as if the bullets had hit water.

"Vach, what the hell is that thing?" I shouted through the tacnet.

"Penso... the strega got some kind of four dimensional armor. Shunt damage in the folds of the Calabi-Yau manifold."

"How the fuck do we hurt her? She is advancing on my position, and *my* bloody armour is not 4D!"

"She is standing on the floor, right? Gravity touches. Give her a little."

I aimed my railgun at the floor, blowing up a hole under the liquid shadow. I did not mind the damage her parting fusilade did on my top arm and railgun. It felt so refreshing to see the black and green flashes as she bounced down into the cityshaft below.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

"Redstar, come in. I have found her."

"Roger, Smasher. Is she alive?"

"Can't tell. Some kind of growth, looks vegetable. It is attaching her to the wall."

"Shit. Uzumaki?"

"Nyet. Looks like roses, actually. I'll go for a stack retrieval."

"Be careful, Smasher. Vespa said the initial..."

The scream was more of surprise than pain. Just before the connection cut out Redstar could clearly hear a female voice whispering close to the mic: "So you have come, my prince..." Then the biometrics cut out.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The Clackity Man was a children's tale. One of those dark memes that kept the synthmorph kids in the outcity from straying too far: don't venture into the warrens, or he might catch you and add you to his morph. If you make too much noise, he might creep up on you in his slippers, launch a flaming head from his branching arms to cut off your escape and then silently disassemble you for parts, saving your cyberbrain for last.

So why did I have pictures of him in my surveillance feed? Why can I trace his blurry but unmistakeable shape along conduit A5-100 last shift? And why did he turn towards the spime at junction AW23, making a hushing sign? As if he knew I would be watching.


Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Far from the city by ~tredowski on deviantART

What Do You Suppose They Built Here?

"And you trust her to tell you the truth?"

"Shut up, already. Pay attention to our surroundings, and look for the next waypoint. My sister said it would look obviously out of place."

Out of place, thought Tunge, what does that mean around here? Ten years ago Exsurgent virus corrupts Fa Jing's finest terraforming machinery. They start building whatever those hoops belonged to. He says "out of place."

"Hey, John?"

"What now?"

"How'd they stop the outbreak here, anyway?"

"Ask your muse. Oh, never mind...with a plowshare charge rigged to dump its energy as broadband EM. They must have air-burst it to cover the whole crater."

"A what? I'm not a terraformer, you know."

"Christ! an improvised EMP weapon triggered by a atomic demolition charge, alright? Probably no fission primary, so very little fallout and most of its energy dumped into the pulse vice the blast. I don't know how they managed it in Mars's weak magnetic field, so don't ask. Just keep looking for the next waypoint."

The two men walked in sour silence for a few meters more.

"I'm sorry, John. I'm not as old as you. I didn't live through ancient military
history. Tell me, did you fight for Napoleon or for Alexander when you were in the Cold War?"

"Different wars, brain-butcher, and not funny. Shut up and keep looking."

Tunge frowned over at the half-collapsed hoops tangled in the overhead lines and wires that led through the pass into the crater. A thought occurred to him, and he stopped walking.

"What now?" John snapped.

"If the terraforming machinery went rogue during the Fall--" Tunge began.

"Yeah?" John stopped beside Tunge and looked up at the wreckage.

"--and they killed it with a home-made pulse bomb--"

"Get to the point, Tunge. We've a mission. Sight see later."

"--why do we still have breathable air now?"

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Why this is Hell, nor am I out of it.


"Ser Wiles, don't you find this whole proposal--decadent?"

"You illiterate wretch! Think Poe! Think Dante! Think Milton!"

"Think insurance costs? Think potential adverse publicity?"

"Fah! Let the small-minded hate. To celebrate suffering through experience, to restore meaning to these prosthetic lives of ours, to instantiate the old myths!"

"Yes, Ser, and yes, yes, and yes again. I know we're not actually sleeving anyone who doesn't accept the psychological risks, and we are dealing out indenture points with a rather lavish hand, but to build even pods just to suffer fast-acting necrotizing fasciitis after loading them to the gills with hallucinodisiacs in a simulspace coming the worst aspects of Parasdise Lost, L'Inferno and The Masque of the Red Death?"

"And your point, Mister Jefferies?"

"I don't remember any Halloween celebration ever descending into, well, such a sadistic proxy hell, if I may say so. Ser."

"You may not. I find your lack of vision disturbing. Perhaps I should contract a more far-sighted and ambitious virtual assistant. Now show me the analysis for market segmentation. I want to know how long can we milk the premium experience before it becomes campy enough for the minor market. Oh, and off-planet distribution rights. Did we ever settle the counterclaims by the Venusian surveyors for the terrain models? And another thing..."

Would that I'd not already sold my soul, and that to this fool! thought Jefferies. Old battered Earth now seems Heaven, but Satan himself can't buy up all the infugees on the market.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Autumn Wind by ~Colourbrand on deviantART

And he was there in the wilderness forty days tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
--The Gospel According to St. Mark, Chapter 1, Verse 13

A dust storm passed high overhead in atmosphere thick from orbital bombardment. A bright globe of Exsurgent make cast shadows across rippling knee-deep soup. Debris floated around him, quietly ignoring gravity, and Darrell walked on, lost.

Is this Qurain? I trained there, I think. Did I land in the Quarantine Zone?

"We love you," came a quiet and steady voice.

He started a mantra against seduction.

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"We know Darrell, and we love you for all that you have been across all manifold possibilities," interrupted the voice.

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"Oh, Darrell. Our mercy encompasses every possible action every possible one might possibly do. We forgive even those sins you never actually committed, out of pure love."

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"Everyone you ever knew, the lost, the loved, even those you killed and those you hated, justly or mistakenly, exist now within us, fully realized and perfected across all possible variations."

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"You're already here, within us, Darrell. This incrementing memory string, this soul, you already joined us, Darrell. It's still you, Darrell, but perfect. You become an angel, like us, Darrell."

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"Oh, Darrell, please listen. You disabled the detectors. Shall we tell you your viral load, Darrell? You can't go home, Darrell. Your friends would kill you from the very fear that you deny."

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. Infection Level Yellow. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"No, Darrell, you are very sick. You can't go back. You don't have to be alone, and afraid, and unhappy. You've already accepted that in so many worldlines, Darrell. Join the throng of yourselves."

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"Just lie down, Darrell. The Omega Point encompasses you, if you'd only see its infinite reality about you. The end of time welcomes with love and mercy and absolution and the realization of all things, Darrell."

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"Oh Darrell, we only seem fearsome, yes, like the cherubim at Eden's east gate, with a burning sword that turns every way. We welcome you home now, we show you to
the Tree of Life, and only ask you to eat, Darrell."

Darrell stopped walking. The hand weapon would kill him and his stack. No, not yet. Another hundred steps, at least.

"You've already done that, in so many other histories, Darrell. It never works as you hope. We force the sacrament on you when you've done that, Darrell, and you forgive us for it afterwards, Darrell."

Darrell Gimiddo. Surgeon-Major, Elysium People's Militia. ID hash e-6-9-d-e-2-9--

"We love you," interrupted the quiet and steady voice.

He took another hundred steps.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

"Nice place you got. Ground level Erato, you have really done well for yourself."

"Ha. Nai, you are as insincere as always. I don't need any oracles to see that you are green with envy and thinking 'How long will the old idiot hold on to *this* fortune?' Right?"

"Never could hide anything from you, dearie. The jump from chengguan to diamond turfer was impressive. So how long will this fortune last? When should I tell my agents to join the bidding at the foreclosure auction?"

"At my current rate, before the end of the year. But I will move on before that. Because I got a lead on the Noumenon headquarters..."

"Chedan. Gege, you are full of it as always."

"And if I told you I had data?"

"I would say you are still talking fangpi. Or that you have been conned by the Youbing Crew like Riccy was."

"Ah, Riccy. No, this is actually validated data. I have neutrino triangulation of the location, independent evidence from pre-Fall shipping manifests and, most importantly, a delta of someone who has been there. Look at this."

"Asteroid and regolith shielding - not very hightech defence."

"That is just the current inhabitants. They turned it into a scum barge, or rather a brinker habitat they call Anemone. They do a lot of mining, positively dwarven in outlook. But the core hab was Noumenon HQ all right. In fact, I would bet it still is."

"Zuosi or Handsworth still running it? Cao..."

"My witness didn't know much, of course. But I think it is online. Our Jovian friends would be willing to pay a small fortune for that info alone..."

"...but you will of course not settle for just having them vaporize it. You want to go there, find the mainframe, bring back the mermaid and then sell it. You are suicidal."

"Seems your oracles are malfunctioning, Nai. I want *you* to go there and do all of that. I'm rich enough right now to be able to afford to stay well away. While you owe certain people I know certain things."

"If you tell the Jovians the coordinates while I am there, my backup will drop you into the melanoma shaft. Repeatedly."

"That's the spirit! Nice to have you back."


Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

little dragon by ~ERS93 on deviantART


Lost chameleon-fly, answers to "Ernie"
Reward for information leading to return or cloning
Contact Jack on @-list
Please help. Our Fall-shocked grand-dad really misses Ernie.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

(Ernie: awww...)

"Mr Zalta, aim 4.3 meters lower. There is a debris field ahead."

Shamir obeyed his suit, avoiding a broken skyscraper hanging horizontally in his frame of reference. It was still loosely held together by rebar, a constellation of concrete asteroids stretching into the mist of the wrecked habitat. "This is what happens when life is out of balance" he mused as he passed a rusting groundcar incongruously perched on a drifting pile of concrete.

"Mr Zalta, I detect electromagnetic activity at bearing 14/-41. Please investigate."

Swooping down to the chaos of the ground level he first mainly felt confusion. When the flywheels had broken apart so much of the chaos inside had been thrown around. Besides the omnipresent chunks of concrete there were bike wheels, piles of paper, oddly shaped ceramic implements and what looked like a collection of bot legs tied together with hemp rope. But then he noticed the spheres.

They were nondescript metal spheres, connected to some snaking cables. They did not look like anything but debris, yet they caught his attention. There was something about them that stood out. Moving his glove close he got a display of a weak flickering pattern of electromagnetic signalling.


The pattern expanded, shifted. He noted that his sphere was marked with the astrological sign libra. Art objects? The pattern had a bit of a floral style. In fact, it definitely reminded him of the flowers in grandmother's garden back on Earth.

"Analysing. Please retain position, Mr Zalta."

He watched the flower emerge from the sphere, a filigree of light and imagination. As his suit looped onward in analysis the stem extended towards his face. Slowly, languidly he fell into a reverie about childhood and light.

"Mr Zalta, I am detecting suit integrity problems."


"Mr Zalta?"


Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Ralph McQuarrie's Star Wars CantinaCantina by Ralph McQuarrie on Galactic Voyage

A Wretched Hive of Scum and Villany

This painting (provenance checks provided by The Monocle Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Experia) commemorates a sordid tale inside the Martian Capital of Sin: Elysium City.

Luke's American Cafe, a minor landmark among has-beens, never-wases, and hayseeds, eventually lost its lease. Well-meant crowd-funding campaigns failed to return the establishment to prosperity. Management changes also failed. The refreshments grew cheaper in direct proportion to the desperation of the clientèle. From its peak on the "up-and-coming places to be seen" section of major notoriety exchanges, Luke's American Cafe eventually became nothing more than a glorified opium den for impoverished uplifts and addled pods.

Its final day, however, shown here, sparked last month's controversy over an obscure point of dueling etiquette. The last responsible bartender, "Greedy," in the decrepit, hunchbacked, and hirsute Ruster morph with a prosthetic tail, denied entry to the repossession team on the grounds of the Cafe's long tradition of forbidding entry to synthetic morphs and other post-biologicals. This left Hans Sergio Leone, in the Splicer morph at center, to collect the debt owed by the establishment.

Different witnesses later claimed to have seen both "Greedy" and Leone shoot first. The low-quality video recordings available showed clear signs of later editing, but no one so far has cared enough about the now-gentrified neighborhood's sordid past to untangle the heavy-handed attempts at history control.

The anonymous artist responsible for this painting chose to depict the event in ambiguous fashion, with the principals at odds, the other repossessors and their Direct Action tele-trooper looking on, while the final customers of Luke's American Cafe remain in their cups and hoses.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Preperations for Pathfinder Expedition C37x45 were almost at an end at the Martian Gate. Soon the group would travel to a new, barely chartered world, full of new discoveries and biosphere to experiment upon, an interesting task considering its uncanny resemblance to some elements of Earth's lost habitat.
Jonathan Samuel Northon was anxious. His mission was to distribute active nanotoxin among the group's members which would result in slow degradation of mental abilities and increased aggressiveness. As a deep cover agent for a shaky alliance group of Bioconservationists and Reclaimers he was read to do all he could to divert any attention and resources from true destiny of transhumanity-to return to its roots on Earth. Even gossip and rumours of shady support from Jovian agents for their own misty goals in this mission, didn't divert his dedication...

Source from artist

Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

"Are you sure she is all right?"

"What do you mean, darling?"

"She is spending an awful lot of time in the simspace, tending that... tree."

"Mr Tooty. She calls it Mr Tooty. Don't worry, her mentor program assures that it is healthy for kids to have a bodily representation to relate to as they begin to understand morphs."

"Maybe I am just old-fashioned. But I do think it is pretty creepy. Why can't kids today have virtual fuzzies instead?"

Their daughter didn't hear their conversation, but she smiled anyway. She knew Mr Tooty would protect himself, just like he had done against her mentor program. The stairwasps were very good at readjusting the views of people and things. He promised that as long as she watered him with milk he would grow. The bigger he got, the greater the tooth-seeds she could then carry to the fabber and make real.


Quincey Forder Quincey Forder's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

now that one was really, really creepy!
I love it!
could come straight out of Book of Virtuallogic (something I'm prepping for the next issue's !Ex News Byte. title not definite, but supposed to rhyme with Book of Magic)
and it's very in season, with Halloween next Monday...

Q U I N C E Y ^_*_^ F O R D E R

Remember The Cant!

Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Yeah, it's definitely creepy, and makes me wonder if some dark Titan tool isn't at work in the background...
I have three adventure ideas to post, but I want to refine them first...

Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.

Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Extrasolar Angel wrote:

Gatekeeper Corporation Exploratory Mission 893
Record log Doctor Johansen, Science Operations Team Leader
Day 1
We reached an unexpected location. This....doesn't seem to be a planet. At first we suspect the typical cave complex, but it became immediately clear that this is an artificial structure. The security guys Frank and Kires established a basic defensive perimeter around our encampment. If you can call a couple of tents to be a “camp”. We are still gathering data and analyzing the environment.
Day 5

Initial hypothesis that we are inside an asteroid seems to be wrong. We didn’t discover any solid rock surface or deposits. The whole place seems artificial, consisting of lightless corridors and slabs of unidentified material. The dust that covers many corridors is of possible organic nature, although precise identification remains elusive.
Day 8

Doctor Chandri suggests that the slabs of concrete like material we have seen are in fact tombs. Our scans didn’t identify any life support infrastructure that we could identify nor are there any visible cache storages or rooms with additional surface. Science team also is 99% sure that we are in object located in interstellar medium, judging by background radiation scans.
Day 12

A sad day for our whole expedition…. Attempts to remove the slabs or interfere with them…met with unexpected results. When Frank tried to pry one open with tools, his body was electrocuted out of nowhere…Hell if I know how that happened, there were no energy readings on the damn things nor any machinery or electronic components. The only possible solution would be fast reacting nano’s but our scans didn’t show any…This merits further, although risky research. Oh I almost forget-we managed to save Frank…His cortical implant was jury rigged to one of the spare synth cases that we use for manual labor..His not happy, but at least he is still with us. Doctor Chandri believes that this in fact might be a burial place for some long extinct xeno-civilization, a mobile tomb-ship even that is now drifting throughout the void.

Day 13

I ordered to cease all operations on the tombs. It seems that they are protected by some kind of xeno-nanotechnology, as our dear team member Lukkas discovered when his morph vanished into a pile of dust…Well at least we now know where the dust comes from. Which also gives a chilling thought-if the dust comes from previous attempts to open the tombs, how many entities were here. This thing must be ancient...Poor Lukkas…I will have to tell him once his back from backup storage about the whole two weeks he will be missing from his life.Our expedition is going nowhere though…This saddens me.

Day 14

A breakthrough ! Doctor Chandri discovered a series of glyphs on one of the dead-end corridors, that react to certain sounds. It seems that after two weeks of being stuck in this tomb world we finally are able to get something else for study.

Day 14 entry number 2
Marvelous, and simply beyond words. We see dozens upon dozens of amber like wombs suspended from the ceiling, with shapes clearly visible within them...Embroys? Crew members? the chamber is awash with light and full of activity…At the end of the room there is a barely recognizable figure, a hologram we think… This will be...Wait.

Day 29
Days are gone…gone…. Chandri gone as well…Can’t think really as a stream …Magnificient, vast. Scale is…large. Express something, I think…
We shouldn’t be here.

Last entry. No further information recorded. Data found near Pandora Gate. No members of the expedition found. Further exploration of object X-297 is suspended under further notice.

Link to second art author:

Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

My flashbacks usually begin when I walk out of a door. Suddenly I am back in the metroplex, facing downtown burning. Sometimes they are triggered by sunlight, or smoke, but normally it is doors. I dread walking through them since I so often end up facing groaning metal, the sound of sirens and the whisper of flames.

I didn't do badly: I had already a fairly good idea about what was going on and had disabled higher functions at my place when the subversion wave passed. People who didn't quickly found out just how deadly home automation could be. I have heard the claim that most of the subverted tech just tried to immobilize people for later harvesting, but I don't believe it. It went for disabling all right, but didn't take care not to kill or not to trigger fires. Aerofans were crashing left and right, utilities overheating and over-enhanced people were running around "helping" with sharp implements. That's how I lost Mary. You can't turn off your neighbour.

Usually my flashbacks jump ahead a bit at this point, seamlessly blending that horrible day with my last day on Earth. In reality it was two weeks between them.

I was in the Nanjing area, trying to find any survivors for the corp. The metroplex was fully active and looked normal... except that here there were nobody around. The cars were driving themselves. Shops were stocked from the fabbers by the bots but there were nobody to buy anything... except for a few majordomo units picking up groceries. Brightly lit apartments, even plenty of network traffic. Not a single soul. By now we thought we knew what to expect, but the infrastructure just ignored us. We were apparently not even worth collecting.

Then the supersonic missiles exploded overhead. Gunships from what remained of the PLA roared towards Jurong, firing everything they got. They managed to break through some kind of hologram or metamaterial shield - or maybe they just forced us to notice the gigantic structure on the horizon.

The thing looked like a mixture of cathedral and onion, too strange to make sense. I remember Jin joking something about property values going down with that kind of neighbour. Then the outer shell began to unfold. Maybe it was a defence, but I doubt the gunships had any real impact. Maybe it was just the structure shrugging and thinking "OK, let's get on with things".

While the shockwave rolled towards us I kicked and screamed at Jin for that insensitive joke - I knew that we would be dead and buried within a minute, so why not let loose my rage and grief on the bastard? He wasn't much of a match after I pulverized his leg. He just looked uncomprehending as I tried to crush his windpipe against a railing. Across the plaza I saw a pet-minder bot holding up a tabby cat in a window, pointing at the wall of dust and falling skyscrapers - lookitthat, dearie.

That is usually how my flashbacks end. A brief bonecrushing darkness and a surprised cat.


Extrasolar Angel Extrasolar Angel's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

John C. Presley was fucking pissed. Whoever sent his backup down to Earth as part of some twisted hostile takeover in latest Hypercorp bullshit drama will have his cortical stack content erased by a hydraulic hammer, fucking old school. Oh, well, you don't get to be leading managing designer of pleasure synths in Exotech without learning a couple of tricks.

Raise your hands to the sky and break the chains. With transhumanism we can smash the matriarchy together.

Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Moria... In... Space!!!

I still love dungeon crawls.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

by michaelkutsche

Butcher was not a nice man. Violent, suspicious and coarse - you wouldn't want to bring him home to your family. Let's not even start on his fights, or who paid what to whom around them. But he was also, despite everything else, sane.

Most of us hold together and tell ourselves that we are sane. Sure, our egos might be a bit dented and we wake up crying in the night, but we think we are as normal as we were. It is all a lie, of course. The fact is that without our muses, drugs and psychotech we would fall apart quickly. The losses and transformations have been too great to handle - anybody telling you anything else is wittingly or unwittingly repeating Consortium social stabilizer memes.

I realized that when I talked with Butcher. He might have been a prize fighter in an illegal operation down below Bridgetown, but the contrast between him and the rest of us was glaring. Subtle, but enormous. He was sane. He didn't believe things because everybody else believed them - he wanted proof. When he decided something he did it. When he didn't know something he didn't pretend to know. His emotions were pure and direct, free of internal diplomacy.

I don't know where he ended up. Maybe an enforcer for one of the triads, or acting as a bodyguard. Maybe he left. But thanks to him I became aware of who and what I am. I wouldn't thank him for it, if I met him today.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

"Penny for your thoughts, Agra."

"You can't afford them, Gata."

"We have plenty of essence."

"But no free energy."

"Helmholtz or Gibbs?"


"Lower your expectations."

"Not Pip's choice."

"Bad provenance."

"Speaking of Provence, how is our charge coming along?"

"Elementary. The healing vat is providing hallucinations."

"Not just doors of perception."

"Speaking of Philip's profession, I added some useful memories."

"Boncompagno would have been proud."

"Humor is a serious thing. Four of them, even more so."

"Viergruppe oder Z4?"

"Leave Zuse out of this. I felt INRI was appropriate."

"Don't come to me if he burns."

"Agra, I have always believed in progress."

"Gata, say hi to Yuri from me."


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

This is what we managed to extract from their stacks and other equipment, sir.

[Report: Reconstruction of mission 10-348 to Gatecode AE03550F.]
Team: Geoff E. Vaj, Dr China Aranson

Executive summary

The team emerged from the gate into an irregular space approximately 20 meters wide. The surrounding structure appeared as a fibrous, organic-looking mass of translucent material, containing irregular tunnels. Gravity was a mild 0.24 G. Diffuse reddish light emanated from certain directions, with a non-blackbody spectrum and strong polarization. The atmosphere was warm, dense and unbreathable due to high carbon dioxide content.

Dr Aranson set up the standard gate-monitoring gear and a C3I system while Mr Vaj gathered samples. After ascertaining the situation they decided to go exploring. The initial explorations were hampered by the labyrinthine nature of the structure. While openings of transhuman size were plentiful, the tunnels were torturous and often narrowed to sizes that could not be explored. Inserted drone cameras suggested that the structure had a clear directionality, with the light coming from one particular direction - possibly a large space.

At this point the team apparently became aware of something, likely a sound. They set out exploring another set of tunnels, taking good care to maintain their lifelines back to the gate but making significant hurry. The path appeared to approach the core space, leading more than 580 meters away from the gate.

At this point they encountered something. The included sensory reconstruction shows how their brains perceived it - a humanoid figure. Suit sensors did not pick it up.

From this point onwards data recording and memory become extremely fragmentary: there is not only informational degradation and evidence of software crashes in all equipment, but during the later autopsy of the morphs extensive lysis of hippocampal tissue and breakdown of stack nanofibers were found.

A likely reconstruction is that the team suffered a massive panic reaction, fleeing back to the gate along their lifelines. This might explain lost equipment and some of the abrasive damage to their suits. However, there are some bruises that appear to have been caused by a diamond-like blunt object that cannot be explained as accident or self-inflicted.

[End report]

As you can see, sir, I think we have a sighting of Eka. What course of action would you advice?


Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

Forbidden Knowledge, by Stephan Youll, from Brighter Suns.

And thou shalt make the horns of it upon the four corners thereof. His horns shall be of the same, and thou shalt overlay it with brass. Exodus 27:2


"The spiky spheres around the middle of that space station... I find them troubling."

"You modeled it, Carter. Do you have second thoughts about your work, or do you just fish for a compliment?"

Carter laughed at his muse's little joke. "Right again, Cosby, and on both counts. No, I had only so much realization budget for that part of the construct, and I worry it won't seem so convincing if the physics get tested."

"They're only trainees, and pilots at that. If it looks good they'll accept it. Pilots are stupid."

"That's a stereotype, and we don't hire fools for quarantine."

"No, not if we can help it."

Carter watched the shuttle trace out an arc past the central spheres, hoping for any errors to occur well below the resolution limit.

"Cosby, who did the in-house testing? Forest and Phillips?"

"Yes. Do you want the details? Neither of them actually explored the habitat section, but they gave the detonation chamber's growths a good going-over."

"Did Elmson check the structures for verisimilitude? She's the microbiologist, after all."

"No. Arthur had her attend a trade show."

A Menton morph that can pass for a Slyph, some people have all the luck, Carter thought. Oh well--the certification would only last another week or so, calendar time.

Sometimes the delete key serves best.

Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

The silence in the elevator was the usual friendly awkwardness. Kimiko and Jee4 hung from the bracing and listened to the ticking noises as the pressure compressed the ceramatrix and fullerene. The Europan water filling it smelled weakly of compressed biomass and sulphur compounds. Eventually some invisible threshold of awkwardness was passed, and Kimiko spoke up on the common band.

"Going down to LK4, today?"

"Sure am. Need to check the spine again. Some of those anemone things appear to have eaten through the shell again. You?"

"Long range excursion. Need to check the tension spars in the East. Some kind of settling going on."

"Tough. You're not bringing much kit."

Kimiko nodded her wide head. "Got it all here" - she pointed at the armbands of grey nanosubstance. "Latest high pressure blobject toolkit. Baldplate wanted me to test it, fresh out from alpha."

"Heh. I wouldn't trust a beta down there. Chevron got half killed when its toolkit acted up and punctured its morph. Ultrasound distortion and some protein resettling."

"That's what these little beauties ought to get around. I checked the alpha tests, and they all look fine all the way down to Perdido Depth."

"You shouldn't trust those alpha records, they are always airbrushed. You heard about the alpha test of the new Jeanne D'arc medichine? Had to place seven testers in vats, yet claimed a spotfree alpha. Hope you get plenty of rep for your little excursion test... and please leave this conversation out of the record, right?"

"Wouldn't dream of informing on your antiprogressive views, Jee."

"Thanks. Here is my stop, anyway. Good luck, and say hi to the spars from me."

Kimiko watched Jee4 swim away into the darkness before the elevator continued its descent. She was very happy he had not wanted a closer look at her nanotools. She doubted he would have recognized what they truly were, but she couldn't afford anybody figuring things out at this stage. Killing his morph in an "accident" would have been so cumbersome. Now she could concentrate on her real mission. She had a date with the abyss.


Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
Re: Adventure vignettes

by Sanat 49

"You couldn't have sleeved me in anything less ridiculous, Flavus?"

"I am sorry, ma'am, but this synth was the only one we could get with short notice."

"My stack must have been lying around down there for a year at least. Why the hurry?"

"The reason we found you was that we were trying to penetrate the lower levels again. Your deposition would be most useful."

"And you don't want to debrief somebody in a milspec body. Why not do this in a virtual anyway?"

"We are a bit stretched for resources here... and there are software security issues. Could you tell me again what you were doing?"

by oscar3dart

"OK, here we go again: we went down to the bottom of the shaft, following Route 4. Most of the way was clear, with only a bit of ice. Beyond point Hotel there were more ice breakthroughs, some containing frozen manipulators - Maindonald thought the local systems had gone haywire at some point and flailed around, damaging the shielding."

"Was there any sign of recent activity?"

"Not really. Some charring and rerouted cabling that might have been from survivors setting up a redoubt in the depth core."

"Do continue."

"We got to the main life support centre, and it was seriously iced over. Some burst pipes, some external ice intrusion. The main routes were hopelessly flooded and frozen. However, some of the drainage tunnels were empty - go figure. We spread out, looking for a way down. And before you ask, no, no sign of deliberate demolitions, defences or habitation. Just pipelines and ice. Then Sgt. Braun found something."

by htkpeh

"He found some kind of cyst in the ice that responded to his light by shining back. Yellowish blackbody radiation, no heat signature. Almost like a snow lantern. We were cautious, so we decided to take the long way around it but follow the pipeline... I think it was the 166 one."

"Yes, that must be right. That was where we found your stack. What happened then?"

"... I am a bit foggy about the rest. Nonconsolidated memory loss, you know. I think we followed the pipeline. There was a lot more ice around, big intrusions and loose piles of fines that tended to get swirled up in the air when we moved. And then... IT appeared."

by htkpeh

"What was it?"

"I only have fragments. Big. Looked like it was made of ice shards, but that could just be active camo. It blended in great in a side tunnel. We had almost passed it when it charged, I think. Ice mandibles. The ice crystals seemed to form a cloaking fog around it. Almost like an ice nanoswarm. Blue light like Cherenkov radiation inside. It was fast - got Maindonald almost instantly... and then I suspect it got me."


"Did you encounter it too?"

"No, not yet... Or rather, we are *still* down here. Sorry for the deception about the synthbody and debriefing environment, but you are actually in my ghostrider module experiencing an internal accelerated simspace. We just needed to get the intel very quickly, ma'am."

"That was rude. I would have done it myself, but it is damn rude. You could just have asked."


"Who are you, *really*? I know JohnnyBoy is part of the team, and that is why I spoke to you rather than just giving name, rank and number. But who are you, Flavus?"

by puppeteer

"I'm JohnnyBoy's weapon. And honestly, right now I am out of ammo and options... which is why I was hoping you would have any ideas or useful tactical intel. We are all that is left of the second penetration team..."