Make Earth Glorious Again

Istrian
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Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:27 am

MEGA is an attempt to have a multi-group Torg campaign following the timeline as closely as possible (currently fingers crossed that all Year 1 books are released before we get there). Here are their (hopefully readable) stories.

Currently there are six groups, starting the game in different cosms during Day 2 of the invasion.

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU ARE ONE OF MY PLAYERS PLEASE DO NOT READ FURTHER (including about the other PCs).

Player Characters
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Major Villains
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Reoccuring Characters
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Last edited by Istrian on Fri Oct 11, 2019 4:55 am, edited 19 times in total.

Istrian
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Location: Cyberpapacy (Paris)

Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Fri Jun 07, 2019 9:27 am

Moscow Outskirts, Russia, Tharkold, Day 2
Leonid Slovokin, Alicia Kalachnikova, Elizabeth Poliakova

Three people wake up in a drab building of concrete that looks from the outside like a pumping station. The day before, a nuclear explosion started in the center of Moscow forcing three people to crash a car, a motorbike and a plane nearby in the mad scramble for a shelter thick enough to withstand radiations.

Their uneasy nightly respite was wracked with dreams and visions of being pursued by a wave of rolling skulls, targeted by a techno-demon with a lot more techno than demon, and a tiny village surrounded by dead bodies as children danced. Despite waking up they were quite unsure of what time it was. The one thing they were certain: hunger.

After trying to open the door and getting bathed in a massive spike of radiation, they began looking for another way out from inside the shack. The interior turned out to not be a pumping station but a tool storage shed. Leonid observed the unusual surgical implementation of dirt and dust on the tools themselves, prompting the others to think this simple building may hide something else…

Looking around, they manage to find and open a manhole leading to a featureless underground tunnel. As they walk through, the ground shakes and the tunnel begins collapsing behind them. After a scrambled run through the collapsing tunnel, and some strange set of connected cylinders, the group emerges in a large, abandoned factory with an unfinished missile being assembled. On the way Alicia passed by a dead soldier crushed by a rock and grabbed his weapon and a keycard.

Exploring one wing of the facility they find information it was hurriedly evacuated the previous day towards St Sergius Lavra. More importantly they find a fully-equipped kitchen with large food stores. Opening a fridge, Leonid is assaulted by a hungry technodemon leaning out of a void within the fridge itself. A fight ensues as Leonid scrambles for cover, Elizabeth calls upon the powers of God to vanquish the entity, Alicia attempts to set fire to the whole kitchen and the demon warps from appliance to appliance. In the end the technodemon retreats to wait for another opportunity, and the group can finally eat.

-----
Toulouse, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 2
Aurore, Damien Monnet

Aurore and Damien run through the narrow streets of the Pink City’s center, under the evening rain, carrying the unconscious body of an unknown woman who just moments before was hit by an explosion Place St Georges. They stop for a moment, Aurore to shift her disguise to something different, and Damien, tired of walking, to hijack a nearby car.

Driving at top speed through the city they get to the hospital where Damien’s mother works. Unfortunately instead of helpful EMTs, they are met by an inquisitive doctor who observes the mysterious woman’s wounds are unusual and begins asking too many questions, requesting the two good samaritans remain until the Church Police arrives.

Instead of waiting, Damien runs out and crashes back into the hospital lobby with his new car while Aurore loads the mysterious woman into the car again. A hectic chase ensues, as the car is pursued by a cybergoyle and a few Church Police vans; however they find some help as Damien’s road gang arrives to remove some heat and provide the address of a doctor who doesn’t ask questions.

The address ends up leading the duo into one of the shadier districts of Toulouse where disenfranchised youths listen to rap music while burning cars. Fortunately the doctor, actually a veterinarian, proves helpful, even though expensive. While the vet operates, Aurore and Damien discuss their situation. Aurore mentions the two sets of IDs she found on the mysterious woman, but a quick search through the GodNet shows one of the two does not exist.

Leaving the vet with the mysterious woman -now treated but still unconscious- in tow, the two briefly split up as Damien uses his street cred with the local gangs to borrow another car and Aurore runs to the local pharmacy. Exchanging with the gang, Damien learns the local cops haven’t gone full Church yet and are still somewhat normal and very corrupt. Except for one overzealous inspector who intercepts Aurore at the pharmacy and begins to interrogate her on her activities of the day.

The first set of lies does not go well as the inspector reveals he knows a lot more about the Place St Georges explosion than Aurore gave him credit for. Shifting to half-truths only gets more trouble as the inspector asks to meet the mysterious woman, who is revealed to be a known terrorist, and requests Aurore to accompany him to the station while discreetly calling for backup from said station on the other side of the road from the pharmacy.

At the same time the local youths start to rouse some rabble, all arranged by Damien. The latter slinks into the pharmacy as the inspector leaves, knocks out the other policeman and leaves quickly with Aurore. Damien drives to his gang’s hideout and they spend the night there, keeping watch over the mystery woman.

Toulouse, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 3
Aurore, Damien Monnet

As morning arrives, Aurore discovers there is a warrant for Damien and the woman’s arrest (as well as one of Aurore’s disguises), alongside all of Damien’s gang-members. The woman finally wakes up. Talking with her, Aurore and Damien discover she is a terrible liar, and in turn she discovers they know a lot about the current situation.

Dropping her facade she introduces herself as Laurence Posnat, neurosurgeon and currently member of a small resistance cell with three other people. They were meeting at Place St Georges to discuss a infiltration into the Airbus factories in-town in order to sabotage the Cyberpapacy’s surveillance drone production. Unfortunately she knows nothing about the explosion but mention she has a radio to communicate with other Resistance cells in her apartment, and that there is a way to get them out of the current predicament but it requires a long list of electronics and hardware. After giving Aurore and Damien her address and a shopping list, she slips back into the sweet embrace of unconsciousness.

Aurore and Damien get Laurence into Damien’s new car and head off to her apartment to look for the radio. Arriving there they notice the Church Police already in the building, going door-to-door to search for heretics. Aurore uses her magic to disguise herself and Damien into residents, and they reach Laurence’s apartment without trouble. There they quickly find the radio, an old World War 2 model, but also spot something unusual: the outline of something invisible built into the wall.

Looking through Laurence’s computer, Aurore finds the very unusual “epinephrine release” option. Contrary to the label, it only releases the hologram generator that hides some kind of metallic doorway adorned with coils and struts and capacitors built into the wall. They both realise this could be a literal backdoor into the GodNet and also what Laurence needs the shopping list contents for. Unfortunately they are forced to blow it up (alongside the apartment) using a gas leak and a microwave as the Church Police pounds on the apartment’s door.

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Spatula
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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Spatula » Fri Jun 07, 2019 4:11 pm

Wow, are you really running 6 groups simultaneously? That’s certainly ambitious! Are the players the same or different across the groups?

Istrian
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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Sat Jun 08, 2019 12:37 pm

Spatula wrote:Wow, are you really running 6 groups simultaneously? That’s certainly ambitious! Are the players the same or different across the groups?

I wanted to run 7 but I haven't managed to fill the Living Land group yet (hopefully in a month or two). Currently I have 19 regular players and 2 "guest-stars".

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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Wed Jun 12, 2019 4:12 am

Rawatbhata, India, Orrorsh, Night 2
Chakrawarti Ranganekary, Samarj Chopade, Tobias Lynch

A month before, the Chopade-Lynch-Ranganekary Expedition landed in India and poured over old texts in libraries and temples, and found a potential location for an ancient place of Hindu worship near Rawatbhata. Quickly arriving at the location, the team began digging for any traces of the place, only finding a real lead the night before, as an earthquake opened a hole in the ground leading to an ancient chamber full of frescoes.

Apart from a few incidents on the surface, the archeological team has spent most of their time in the underground temple, studying ancient frescoes. Chakrawarti was amazed to discover the non-traditional Hindu depictions showing avatars of various deities with unusual characteristics, such as Vishnu making war, Ganesha trampling people, Kali and Shiva locked in a shape that could only be described as the taijitu shape…

As night befell labourers cleared the rubble blocking the hallway to another room, and the group was able to move forward to an oddly-shaped room with a dry fountain and statue in the middle. The statue was most intriguing as it had only a robed body with no arms and a featureless head. While Chakrawarti and Tobias studied the statue and the room, Samarj noticed the chief of labourers, Harsh, seemed to be lost.

Investigating further, Samarj found out that another labourer, Raji, was missing, sneaking off to the city to bring back some alcohol. At Tobias’ request, another worker, Palak, was sent to look out for him during the night. The other labourers climbed up to the surface to sleep. The archeologists, like the previous night, stayed up late studying the temple and slept inside.

The following morning a commotion forced them to go back up to learn that neither Raji nor Palak had returned. The archeologists ordered half the workers to drive to the city to find them, and then returned into the temple.

Their surprise was great as they saw the statue now had an arm holding a sword. Chakrawarti studied it, finding it was in the same style as the rest of the statue and showed no crack at the shoulder that would suggest it was attached. Tobias proceeded to alchemically date the stone back to the 3rd century. Samarj tried to mind read the statue, making a startling discovery: the statue thought it had a purpose, a mission.

Samarj suggested placing a camera pointing to the statue to see if another arm grows. Both Chakrawarti and Tobias found the idea fascinating but they had no lithograph available.

In the meantime the group of workers returned from the city in horse-drawn carriages (which astonished Samarj) bearing news that it was attacked during the night, there had been a murder, and neither Raji nor Palak had been seen there. The archeologists decided to ride there, and they needed lithographic equipment anyway.

On the way to Rawatbhata they passed by fields but no workers ("Clearly the ravages of alcohol" -- Chakrawarti). Upon getting closer to the city, they noticed the hydroelectric dam leading across the river had been replaced by just a dam, and a shoddy one that would probably not hold more than a couple of months. The nuclear power stations had instead given place to coal-powered ones as well as factories. And across the dam was a barricade with two militiamen standing guard.

As the group approached, the militia nearly opened fire on them. The archeologists were held at gunpoint and accused of having dug up a terrible curse. As the militia was about to shoot them, an officer, still dressed like a normal policewoman (at least to Samarj), came up and told the militia to stand down.

The situation was complicated, apparently her oddly-changed subordinates had opened fire upon some “dark shapes” during the night, however no bodies had been found by morning, leaving only puddles of dried blood and a trail leading… somewhere. The officer, Manasa Jogalekar, was convinced her men had drank too much and shot some civilians. At the same time a body was found, cut into small chunks, and she had just identified it as Palak, one of the missing workers.

Istrian
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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:11 pm

Wonsando, South Korea, Pan-Pacifica, Day 2
Ji-Hoon Sun, In-soon Heo, Nara Taisuke

Nara, Ji-hoon and In-soon went over the plan again to make sure everything was in place. Nara had infiltrated the Humax research facility on Wonsan Island as a brilliant recent hire. He would wait until evening to unlock the service entrance. Ji-hoon and In-soon will make their way there through the forest and meet up with Nara. After that their objective was simple: search everywhere for that new chip design Humax was close to putting on the market and bring it back to their employer, Cowon.

Despite Nara’s misuse of the facility’s computing resources to save an orphanage the day before, the initial part of the plan went well enough. The only minor hiccup was when a security guard remarked Nara looked a little pale for some reason…

The three Cowon agents had three wings of the facility to look through. Despite Nara’s best attempts the only thing he was able to find was that the lab had received something from abroad.

Getting inside the first wing on their agenda turned out to be a lot easier than it looked, and moments later the three were hacking into computers and searching papers. Unfortunately this research wing only turned up some information about a mysterious high-tech device Humax had received from some foreign partners the corporation decided to reverse-engineer in secret - with no success. As the team was about to leave, they ran into, Kwang Im, a former colleague of Nara’s back when they worked for another corporation. Despite the initial mutual head-to-gun greeting they quickly recognized each other and that they were not looking for the same thing.

Kwang was on a mission to retrieve any data that was taken from his employer by the police during a raid the day before, when rioters managed to break into the corporation’s headquarters in Seoul. Apparently the police had been on the receiving end of Humax’s money, leading Kwang into the current situation. He swapped intel with Nara, mostly about a contract between Humax and some French company nobody had ever heard of before named GWI. Humax was manufacturing high-tech appliances for them.

After that they parted ways and the agents went into the next wing of the facility. This time security proved to be tougher and two security guards armed with tranquilizers arrived on scene asking for identification, and opening fire when it failed to be provided. Dealing quickly with them, the agents continued their mission, despite the blazing alarm.

The second wing proved to be more of a mystery. Fully-equipped labs and offices were left completely vacant, which would have been logical as the facility had opened only a few months before if not for the fact Nara had seen people going in and out. After some searching, Ji-hoon found an elevator door hidden behind a fake wall and Nara tried to hack through it, but with no success.

The elevator door opened anyway and the three agents discovered the existence of five sub-basements and chose to head towards the fifth. Inside the elevator Ji-hoon changed into his gaemamusa armor. This turned out to be a smart move as the elevator stopped on the third sub-basement and the opening doors revealed a security team in full combat gear immediately opening fire due to the alarm. Nara nearly died, In-soon barely survived and Ji-hoon got out of the elevator slashing left and right. The fight was cut short as a loudspeaker announced “confinement loss, please evacuate immediately”. And then an explosion took out the elevator cabin, dropping Nara and In-soon towards their target: sub-basement five. While security was distracted and distraught, Ji-hoon leaped after the elevator.

The team immediately set upon looking for their target, unfortunately finding only a security team being torn apart by a creature that came straight out of their nightmares and chased after them through the underground facility. The agents ran as fast as they could, unlocking and relocking heavy gates, floor after floor, and picking up some gear from a security room and noticing on a screen an unmarked stealth helicopter touching down on the roof.

On sub-level 3, the team found security evacuating employees and was mistaken for local forces due to their new gear. Despite being given the opportunity to evacuate, the agents instead decided to stay and finish their mission...

Istrian
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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:42 am

Moscow Outskirts, Russia, Tharkold, Day 2
Leonid Slovokin, Alicia Kalachnikova, Elizabeth Poliakova

The three Moscow survivors finished their lunch and packed as much leftover food as they could. They also took some time to look around the wing they were in, which turned out to be an employee area: offices, quarters, medical bay, kitchens, recreational areas and the like. Elizabeth was finally able to find a window and stared out into the ashen mist that covered the outside. Alicia in the meantime found the office of the head administrator; a small pile of ashes in a bowl clued her on the fate of any top secret files, but she was able to find a schedule of the facility. Apparently they were supposed to have a visit from schoolchildren the day before, and to prepare for a military scientist’s arrival, one “Dr Zarkov”. Alicia remembered hearing the name associated with vehicle research but nothing beyond.

The group then decided to backtrack to the factory and follow the “green line” on the ground, which turned out to lead to quite a few answers and some additional questions. As they entered a new building, they felt the world changing slightly around them, feeling their very first Core Earth hardpoint. The new building’s contents brought back childhood memories for all of them, as they had been there before as part of a school trip: they were in the RKK Energiya Museum, dedicated to Soviet space exploration. To their pleasure, the museum was not only full of old space modules, satellites, and bits of the Mir station, but also with somewhat radiation-proof cosmonaut suits.

Their trip down memory lane was interrupted by odd whistling sounds from the floors below, followed by angry voices arguing and someone beating someone else to a pulp over “who gives orders and what to do now that we’re free from the technodemons”. Elizabeth ran down the stairs to help whoever was getting smashed against the wall, while Leonid and Alicia adopted a more careful approach. Elizabeth barely had time to hide when she realized the newcomers were extremely numerous and not entirely friendly. The three of them saw no less than a dozen oddly-dressed and -armed people spread around and start looking around for anything of use.

The three survivors decided to avoid conflict with the larger group and retreated back to the factory area. There they found two of the newcomers already poking their noses around. Alicia snuck behind one of them and introduced the business end of her gun to his head. The man, named Raor, grunted unhappily but decided Alicia was stronger than his current leader and cooperated. He explained they had been dispatched by a technodemon named Rexnar to find “something”. He was not sure what as the leader of the expedition had died and another of their own, a terrifying woman named Samandriel had replaced him, deciding they were now a free people.

Raor was instructed to lure his colleague into the control room, which he did. However Alicia and Leonid were surprised when the floor of their hiding spot turned out to be more damaged than it looked like, and they landed on a walkway below, just as the other raider opened fire, accidentally killing Raor. A brief firefight ensued as two other raiders arrived on the scene from the employee building, only to be blown to pieces by Elizabeth’s automatic shotgun. Leonid was curious about some of the implants the dead raiders had, and removed them for later study.

Once that was done, Alicia hacked the security readers leading into the “red” area, leaving the blue one for last. As they entered a large hangar, they stood transfixed in front of a literal “land fortress tank”, a T-42 prototype from before World War II that was, for some reason, being worked upon. Their surprise was brief as they heard voices coming up from behind the landship, raiders who believed they had found what they were looking for.

Leonid attempted to invoke the powers of the occult to make Elizabeth look like one of the raiders, however his incantation was a bit too loud and resulted in the raiders opening fire. The near-elderly Elizabeth cleared the area quickly again with well-placed shotgun shots.

Once that was done, Leonid, Elizabeth and Alicia explored the area and the super-tank. The red area was clearly dedicated to vehicle construction and maintenance, with many interconnected hangars. However only one other vehicle was left : a modern radiation-proof truck for scientific research in heavily-irradiated areas. The T-42 was also functional, clearly well-maintained and ready to go, except for the turrets, for which no ammunition had been produced since the interwar era. Unfortunately, while the heavy plating could stop most radiation from reaching the inside, the piloting area was not so protected. Given the choice of vehicles, the group obviously decided to go… with the radiation-proof truck.

They also found a trapdoor leading back to the museum through a heavy door in which someone had melted a hole using some unknown weapons. The group decided to leave it for later and go steal some cosmonaut suits for radiation-proofing. While returning to the factory area, Leonid finally managed to disguise Elizabeth as a raider, and not a moment too soon as two other raiders entered from the museum area. Elizabeth, showing the leftovers of the other raiders told them it was done by something called a “Fury”, which clearly impressed the raiders and convinced them to bring all the backup they could find.

Thus creating a diversion, as part of their clearly well-thought-out plan, the survivors went around and entered the now-empty museum through the underground tunnel. As they looked around for wearable suits, they also found some lead sheets from early space exploration missions and enough material to reinforce the front of the truck into a ram. Once that was done, they returned into the vehicle hangars and left the facility.

Abramtsevo, Russia, Tharkold, Day 3

A little past midnight, a radiation-proof truck approached the town of Abramtsevo, location of St Sergius Lavra where the military had evacuated before the nuke struck. Visibility was still low, with dust and ashes swirling in the air. The three survivors could only see the dark silhouettes of the rooftops of Abramtsevo. No sound was forthcoming, and only an orange glow showed a part of the town was burning.

As they had found enough gas and food on the way, the Moscow Survivors did not need to expose themselves too much. They decided to find a secure location to spend the night, fit the ram on the front and the radiation-plating around the driving cabin and leave as soon as possible. They walked between rows of dead bodies, soldiers who had been probably executed when there was no hope left for them. Leonid found a large garage in fairly good shape, and they rolled the vehicle inside.

The garage also had bodies of dead soldiers, however it is only when the doors were closed that said bodies started to rise, wave after wave, and assaulted the survivors with their horrifying, long bio-mechanical tongues. A few providentially well-placed shots came from the other end of the garage, and the survivors were able to dispatch their enemies. Hidden in the darkness they found another Russian soldier, clearly dying, clearly missing his jaw that had been replaced with a mechanical tongue. The soldier implored them to kill him while he still had his sanity left. The old Elizabeth obliged, with the help of her axe. Behind them, Leonid noticed the tongues were slithering away from their “undead” enemies towards a new set of bodies. However he was quick enough to point it out to Elizabeth and the matter was resolved.

Upgrades to the truck were quickly done and the group decided to sleep there. Towards morning, as Leonid was on watch duty, he heard a noise from above, some flapping of wings. He tried to climb over shelves to reach a window, but only managed to fall down, generating a lot of noise and waking the others. “WHO DARES TO ENTER MY DOMAIN?” resounded a terrifying voice from above.

The group decided to answer by driving down the door of the hangar and leaving at full speed. A brief chase followed as Alicia followed Leonid’s directions to try to lose the horrible techno-demon through tunnels and bridges… all with as little visibility as the day before.

Toulouse, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 3
Aurore, Damien Monnet

After the explosion, Aurore and Damien went shopping, specifically for the kit Laurence had asked for. Damien found a hacker who had avoided arrest 10 years before and who mentioned, after a certain amount of taunting, the shops that still carried electronics and were not under surveillance by the Church Police. Preferring the illegal approach, the duo went there to steal the kit. Unfortunately while the shop had not been under scrutiny, two Church Policemen were talking with one of the assistants. However they proved to be ineffective against Damien.

The last piece they needed was forbidden by Canon Law, therefore the two resorted to use the Black Market contacts Damien’s father had. While the woman was an arms dealer, she managed to give some clues about finding a junker who carried the equipment. Instead of offering money, Damien promised to break some people out of jail for the junker later.

As the day waned, Laurence woke up at the back of Damien’s car, she offered more detail about the plan to get the duo out of trouble. She needed some safe place to build a backdoor into the GodNet and change the arrest warrants before they were processed. Damien received some news that Inspector Sartan was arresting every single ganger in Toulouse, and exchanged a few taunts with him through e-mail.

Laurence needed a safe location to build the backdoor, and Damien remembered about his father’s hideout before the was arrested. It turned out to be an old, broken chapel in the forest outside Toulouse. Damien recalled there was a hidden spot somewhere that could be opened by pressing the correct stones, however he did not know which ones as his father had been quite cryptic.

Aurore looked around and noticed all stones were marked with numbers that could refer to the various Christian scriptures. In the end, however, all she had to do was to press those corresponding to Damien’s birthday. This triggered the altar to move and reveal stairs leading into the catacombs below. Within the catacombs Aurore and Laurence noticed one of the burial alcoves had a strange back, and found a hidden room behind.

The room had simple furnishings, a table, a bed, some playing cards, and a backpack with dynamite inside. Damien grabbed the latter for future use. Laurence and Aurore put together their knowledge. Laurence had some of the technical skills to build the backdoor and attune the trio’s brainwaves to it, while Aurore could infuse the backdoor with the GodNet’s essence and establish defenses to prevent it from taking over the gate. However they decided to do it in the morning, fresh and rested.

Before calling it a day, they used the radio to contact the Resistance. Laurence’s contact use the codename “Vulture Seven”, and Laurence’s was “Nighthawk”. Damien picked “Peafowl” and Aurore “Magpie”. The exchange was strange, but Laurence later revealed they use codewords for everything. The Resistance would leave some equipment at a certain location the next night, which included codebooks for Magpie and Peafowl and a radio to contact Vulture Seven.

Dubna, Russia, Tharkold, Day 3
Leonid Slovokin, Alicia Kalachnikova, Elizabeth Poliakova

The sun sank beyond the horizon as the truck neared the city of Dubna. Dust had begun to settle, providing a bit more light and speed to the journey. The landscape on the road, however, was not a pretty sight. Trees and hills covered in grey dust and ashes replaced the usually-verdant ground. Dubna was not in any better state, a few buildings being in ruins or close to. Many had their roofs blown away, though Leonid was sure it had not been caused by the far-away explosion in Moscow.

The only construction left standing inside the city was a huge metallic sphere a hundred metres in diameter. Leonid noticed multiple bootprints ending at one of the sides of the sphere, therefore the group decided to stop and knock politely. A voice spoke through a loudspeaker demanding to know who they were and what they wanted. Alicia tried to explain their situation, however the voice turned out to be slightly suspicious. It turned out the sphere’s food reserves had been stolen by Russian soldiers earlier today. The group offered to bring back the food and went after the thieves.

They followed their tracks inside Dubna, eventually finding a hideout in one of the residential buildings still left standing. Some light came from one of the floors, indicating survivors. The group decided on a stealthy approach: Alicia lifted herself and the other two up to the roof, and they proceeded downward. Unfortunately Leonid stumbled on a tripwire which triggered an explosion.

The infiltration turned into a firefights as the four soldiers inside opened fire. The floor gave way beneath Alicia, dropping her to the floor below. The fight was swift but tense, especially when it was discovered one of the soldiers was also able to warp reality, the first such person the Moscow Survivors had met. Fortunately that soldier was also the second to drop thanks to Elizabeth’s shotgun, which prompted an exclamation in English from one of the other two, and they retreated. The survivors were finally able to examine the soldiers’ equipment, which turned out to be American-made.

Leonid, wanting answers, patched up the enemy leader. He knew he had only minutes before the patient kicked the bucket, so the questions were concise. The soldiers were apparently special ops on an intel gathering mission regarding some of Volkov’s activities. Despite Elizabeth’s initial accusations, it turned out they were also surprised by the invasion and had to give up on their mission, focusing on survival instead. When asked about the food theft, the soldier, a US Army Major named Michael Stevenson, mentioned that Doctor Durgoleiev, the man hiding inside the sphere, was a war criminal anyway. Before he exhaled his last breath, Alicia asked Stevenson if there was anything she could do for him. The major took out a letter and asked her to give it to his wife and children in New York if she ever had the opportunity.

Toulouse Outskirts, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 4
Aurore, Damien Monnet

After a night of rest, Aurore and Laurence set to building the backdoor. Damien was getting restless in a corner until a lion-headed angel of destruction straight from the Old Testaments poked its head through the half-established portal and started breathing fire around. Aurore received some nasty burns but was able to finish building a firewall, which made the angel vanish.

The three took a deep breath and stepped into the GodNet.

Toulouse GodNet, France?, Definitely Cyberpapacy, Day 4

The GodNet was as strange a landscape as they had expected. They had emerged on top of a cathedral, with paths leading to floating corridors bathing in a sea of flames. Laurence suggested some disguises, and Aurore somehow summoned a holographic terminal to hack their appearances.

Aurore was dumbfounded at first, as she had expected to see rows of zeros and ones. Instead it looked more like triangles with dots at one of the corners. After a bit of thinking she realized the GodNet must use a ternary system instead of a binary one, with values of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. With that she was able to change the trio’s clothes to monastic ones, which led to some complaints from Damien. They proceeded onwards anyway.

Finding their way turned out to be not as difficult as they expected, and they followed halls, prayer rooms and crypts to the Basilica of Our Lady of the Daurade, which apparently had been converted to Church Police Headquarters for Toulouse. They quickly snuck inside and observed how the Church Police interacted with the GodNet: not very efficiently.

They found the office of the chief of Church Police, Chaplain-Captain Bosquet, as he was handing an e-mail to a messenger to carry to the Archbishopess of Toulouse. Damien entered his office and lured him out with information that a Bishop wanted to see him urgently and discreetly. Aurore deleted the search warrants from Bosquet’s desk and the trio set to look around for anything else of interest.

What they found was expected, but still surprising. Apparently there was a rivalry between the Mayor of Toulouse and the Archbishopess for leadership of the city. Bosquet had the idea of disbanding the Police Nationale under pretense of inefficiency by bombing Place St Georges. Bosquet also knew that a Resistance cell would be meeting there, killing two birds with a single stone. Laurence also found news that two of her former teammates had been arrested.

Damien wanted to leave a message in the shape of a stick of dynamite in Bosquet’s desk, but was dissuaded by Aurore: better save the messages for when it counts. Then they quickly returned to the backdoor and left the GodNet.

Toulouse Outskirts, France, Cyberpapacy, Day 4

“We know you are there. This is the police. Come out with your hands in the air or we will blow the church up.” was their greeting when they returned to the real world. Inspector Sartan had somehow found them but apparently had been unable to understand how to operate the altar.

Laurence offered to sacrifice herself by surrendering to the police and pretending the other two were not there. Aurore had a better idea: give the inspector the intelligence they just found in exchange for freedom. Damien preferred the second plan.

Aurore went out to negotiate as Damien prepared for trouble. It turned out the inspector was favourable to Aurore, as it had been a long time since he had shared such an intriguing cat-and-mouse game with a criminal (Romance cards!). He accepted to let Aurore and Damien go for the information, as it seemed they had been wrongfully accused anyway. The police retreated, leaving some breathing room to the trio.

Entracte, Toulouse

Laurence left with her radio to look for the other members of her cell. Her still being hunted would give Damien and Aurore more freedom in their own activities. The new Resistance duo sold the information on the black market in the hopes the level of corruption within the Church Police eventually reaches the hearts and minds of the people.

In a dark office of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Daurade two men met. One was composed and in control, the other was tense and readying for violence.
“As it happens I was recently given this” said Inspector Sartan handing a rosary to the second man, who promptly inserted it into his computer and skimmed through the data
“I see. Is it not said the Lord is forgiveness for past mistakes?” answered Chaplain-Captain Bosquet while discreetly moving his hand towards the hidden alarm button under his desk.
“Indeed. I am sure the Lord does not condone corruption, especially among the leadership, does he?”
Bosquet’s finger moved even closer to the button as he felt his throat dry up. “Indeed.” was the only thing he said.
“I have long thought that proper punishment should be handed out to the right people.” said Sartan, pushing another rosary across the desk.
Bosquet cautiously examined the data inside it, as numbers and names showed up on his screen. His hand moved away from the red button as he was struck dumbfounded. “Why?” he asked speechless.
“Looking at the past few days I cannot help but feel the Church Police may be in need of improved efficiency. They are certainly good at handling riots and stopping demons, but when it comes to knowledge of the local terrain, wouldn’t locals be a better choice?”
Bosquet smiled and nodded. The man in front of him was clearly not God’s wrath for his actions, but instead a gift for his zealousness. A wolf in trenchcoat clothes.

In the following days the Police Nationale was disbanded due to their failure in identifying the terrorists responsible for the explosion Place St Georges. More surprisingly, the Mayor of Toulouse and some of his entourage were arrested for corruption, many years of embezzling funds were exposed and left him with little popular support. Malraux’s Church finally reigned supreme.

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Istrian
Posts: 129
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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:43 am

Rawatbhata, India, Orrorsh, Day 3
Chakrawarti Ranganekary, Samarj Chopade, Tobias Lynch

Manasa guided Tobias to the city’s hospital where the reason for the lack of autopsy became apparent: hundreds of wounded people were waiting on the floors and in hallways until the overloaded doctors could take care of them. Tobias went straight into the morgue, where many bodies were piled up, waiting for processing.

Manasa went to retrieve Palak’s personal belongings while Tobias set to locate the right body. The latter turned out to be extremely difficult due to the sheer amount of dead people and the poor labelling. As he was inspecting one of the bodies, he felt a tug at his ankle. Looking down he saw a skeletal claw gripping him while a skull entwined with vegetation was slowly trying to climb up from below the table. Another similar creature was rising from a nearby table, the sheet covering it slowly falling onto the floor.

In the meantime, Chakrawarti and Samarj managed to find directions to one of the few inventor’s shops that could have carried the camera they were looking for. Unfortunately the shop turned out to be closed. Raising a racket helped attract the attention of a very scared neighbour who hadn’t seen the inventor for a short while. Samarj read into his thoughts to try to understand what he was scared of, and saw the man looking out of a window to the city’s outskirts, where shadows were moving. At the same time there were screams and gunfire. In the end the duo gave up and went to the local newspaper to try to hire a professional illustrator.

Tobias stood in the middle of the protective circle he drew with some salt, and blew up the head of the last of the creatures. Manasa had been unhelpful as it seemed she did not believe in zombies and therefore was busy in the next room looking through boxes for the right one. When she came back she was somewhat forced to admit that perhaps the superstitiousness of her colleagues might be justified. Somewhat.

Tobias chopped some bits off the undead and put them in formalin for later. Then he set to autopsying Palak. He found that her body had been cut through in multiple places with an extremely sharp blade. Even the bones had been cleanly cut. Apart from that she had no other wounds and had clearly been killed by surprise as there were no signs of a struggle. Her belongings only revealed her car keys and the lack of wallet, which was strange.

Done with the autopsy, Tobias decided to lend a hand to the doctors working above by helping with the wounded. Variety and severity was present: many had scratch and bite marks, in some cases an entire limb was missing. A large number also had bullet wounds and fractures. As he worked, Tobias overheard two interns discussing the level of corruption among the militia as yet another body was brought in bereft of anything valuable.

At one point an elderly lady gave Tobias a look of horror, and started accusing him of having brought the curse with him. The other patients quickly joined in the yelling, and Tobias was unable to talk them down rationally. The head doctor, while unhappy with losing Tobias’ help, asked him to leave to avoid a riot.

Chakrawarti and Samarj arrived at the Rawatbhata Gazette offices and a journalist, Anuraag Talavalakar opened after some insistent knocking. It turned out the offices were completely empty, all of his colleagues had gone missing. Worse, a full third of the city’s inhabitants were missing as well. A few hundred farmers from the region had managed to reach the city, however they had brought the news that there was no-one outside the city in all the smaller towns, villages and isolated farms. On the way they had been attacked by strange creatures, that had also attacked the city at night but were repelled by the militia.

Anuraag informed the archeologists there was a rumor in town about these events having been brought up by the nearby digging. They had unleashed a curse and all people would be killed. Fortunately the journalist did not share the view of most of the locals and tried to be helpful to Chakrawarti and Samarj. The two also informed him that they found tracks of blood leading northward, which the journalist decided to investigate next. He also wrote down the advert about the expedition looking for an artist, but was convinced nobody would apply, even for the large amount of money offered.

The trio of archeologists gathered and decided to talk with the refugee farmers. They were huddled together in one of the squares of the city, living in rather poor conditions with only a couple of militiamen nearby to prevent trouble. The farmers were in no mental condition to do so in any case.

Chakrawarti and Tobias began to ask questions about what had happened to them while Samarj exercised her mind-reading skills. The farmers were scared and apprehensive, however in-between bouts of accusations against the archeologists for unleashing the curse, they told about their flight from their farmlands, the attacks they suffered at night. Samarj was able to confirm that directly, and also to spot an odd memory from one of the farmers who, during one of his visits to the city, had distantly noticed Palak entering the Grand Rawatbhata Hotel, the most luxurious hotel in town, which was strange as the expedition was not paying their labourers that much, yet. Chakrawarti assured the farmers that he would try to see about finding protection for them on their farmlands.

Chakrawarti and Tobias went to the militia barracks to talk to Manasa about protecting the farmers. The attempt did not bear fruit as Manasa had her hands full keeping the city safe, and her subordinates were too scared to go out of the city in any case. She informed the visitors that she could get a boat to check the farmlands downriver, but was not sure how long that would be possible due to the massive dam’s transformation into something a lot less resistant to water pressure.

At the same time, Samarj went to the Grand Rawatbhata Hotel to ask questions about Palak. Obtaining only minimal information from the staff (that Palak did indeed come multiple times to the hotel), she decided to keep violating people’s minds. Thus she was able to confirm which room Palak visited. The staff however became suspicious and one of them recognized Samarj as one of the archeologists. To avoid drawing too much suspicion she left and ran into Chakrawarti and Tobias.

Chakrawarti then used his enormous influence to open some doors by pretending whoever Palak was meeting was supposed to leave a letter for him, which Tobias chiming in suggesting a diagnosis regarding venereal disease. This led to a name, Zaidi , and a key to the latter’s hotel suite. The receptionist also informed that Mr Zaidi had left the hotel but the staff did not yet have the time to clean the room. Samarj slipped into the hotel and the trio went straight to the suite.

The suite turned up to be a lot less vacated than suggested. Mr Zaidi apparently had left all of his belongings: suitcases, clothes, and a lot of notes and maps. The archeologists worked out that the man was a scholar himself, and that he had been studying the region for many months now looking for ancient ruins. And that he had been paying Palak to keep him up to date with the dig’s progress. Zaidi’s diary revealed a jealous man who felt great anger at the archeological site slipping right through his fingers. Also some notes about a ritual and some incomprehensible numbers written on the maps.

While they were searching the room, Chakrawarti unfortunately bumped into an oil lamp that immediately caused a small fire. In a frenzy, Tobias tried to stop the spread of the fire, Chakrawarti shouted for help and Samarj picked up a bag and stuff as many papers as she could inside. As the employees rushed in to stop the fire, the trio quietly exited the hotel, Chakrawarti imperiously handing the key back to the receptionist.

As they came out in the street, the sun began to sink behind the horizon and behind them the doorman shut the door and blocked it with a thick wooden plank. Streets quickly emptied of life, shutters were closed, doors were locked, and gunfire began to sound from the barricades at the entrances of the city.

Rawatbhata, India, Orrorsh, Night 3

The archeologists calmly walked back to their coach to realize they had no way to leave the city due to the barricades now being closed, and the militia in a state of paranoia and panic so advanced they shot anything that moved in the darkness and did not ask questions. Chakrawarti retrieved his heavy rifle and looked beyond the barricades at one of the shadows. Unable to decide if it was a human or something else, he rejoined the other two and they started to look for a hotel with a stable.

They had no trouble finding one and convinced the owner to open the doors for them, and in exchange they would patrol the hotel at night. For safety the three gathered in the same room, the hotel’s only suite.

The first watch was not disturbed, and Samarj set to examining the papers they had retrieved from Zaidi’s room. The journal only proved to be insightful as far as giving a better picture of Zaidi’s background. Dilawar Zaidi turned out to be a somewhat unsuccessful scholar, historian and archeologist who had spent many years looking for an archeological site and lost all support and funding from his university. While he had been able to pinpoint the site to the general area around Rawatbhata, his attempts at finding more clues turned out to be a failure, until suddenly the Chopade-Lynch-Ranganekary Expedition came out of nowhere and immediately found the right area. Zaidi used his personal fortune to keep and eye on the archeologists, but the diary did not hint at sabotage.

Chakravarti’s turn came next and he set to examine the papers as well. Remembering the many people he met in India, he recalled hearing about a Dhariya Zaidi, a scholarly genius who worked at the Indian Ministry of Culture and was in charge of national museums and cultural preservation programmes. Chakravarti made a note to try to meet the man as soon as they were able to return to New Delhi and looked at the diary again.

His examination was interrupted by a noise from downstairs, some sort of cracking. Then screeching, and finally a crack and a small yell of pain. Chakravarti woke up the others and they methodically went to the floor below. One door was slightly open in the poorly-lit hallway and Samarj quietly pushed it fully open, revealing a gruesome scene.

In the darkness of the room, a shadowy silhouette seemed to be holding some sort of rope that was constricting a someone, blood slowly dripping onto the floor. The creature attacked Simarj with a scimitar while throwing its prey at Tobias. At the same time the electric lights flickered and went down, leaving Chakravarti hard-pressed to shoot in the middle of the melee.

The creature slashed left and right while trying to get a grip on Tobias, but the two managed to keep it at bay while Chakravarti finally sighed his rifle and shot, blowing the creature away. The hotel’s owner came up, and then went down again to restore the lights.

The body was identified as Abhinav Chattarak, a regional power plant inspector who was making his rounds and found himself stuck in the city due to the recent events. The man had been squeezed tight, his bones breaking due to the pressure. The creature left some sort of white sand behind, which Tobias identified as white marble coming from the same quarry as the statue in the temple.

The rest of the night was quiet, but the hotel residents were all gathered in the common room to sleep to avoid further accidents. This left Tobias to quietly study the maps until he found a meaning to the numbers. These were calculations to gather energies in the right location for a black magic ritual. Tobias pinpointed the ideal location as morning arrived.

Rawatbhata, India, Orrorsh, Day 4

Manasa was called to the hotel at first light and interrogated all witnesses. She also informed the archeologists that during the night one of the barricades was broken and the attackers had managed to inflict severe damage before being pushed back.

The expedition reined up the coach and went to the dig site to take a closer look at the statue. The workers there had not been attacked during the night, however half of them had abandoned their work and fled due to the ambience of the place. Harsh had been unable and unwilling to stop them. Unfortunately this meant it would take more time to dig out the next room.

The statue had changed. Now it had a second arm, this one covered with burning fire. The archeologists tried to put out the fire with water, but it always started burning again. Tobias decided to try a ritual he had learned at Oxford to break the link between living things and the energy of an infinite number of worlds. The first attempt ended badly as Tobias had accidentally used it on himself. The second attempt went much better and the statue began cracking up, yet remained standing.

Chakravarti underlined his certainty that the statue might be the origin of the protection around the dig site and that breaking it may not be the best idea. Instead he suggested they all go to the ritual site, on the other side of the crescent-shaped hill, to investigate.

Despite the location being less than half an hour away, the trip was fraught with trouble. First one of the wheels of the coach broke down, leaving the trio to try to fix it. While doing so a freak sandstorm arose from nowhere. It calmed down only as they reached the ritual site, and at the same time they noticed the sun coming down...

Istrian
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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:37 am

Wonsando, South Korea, Pan-Pacifica, Day 2
Ji-Hoon Sun, In-soon Heo, Nara Taisuke

As the employees were evacuated by security, one of the doctors on staff patched up Nara before fleeing. One distant sound of metallic latches later, the corporate spies, still disguised as Humax security, found themselves alone in the silence and red lights of the alarm. After making sure the others had fled, the agents looked around for anything interesting or forgotten, but only confirmed Humax had barely started studying the mutated creature. One thing they did learn was that anyone killed by the creature tended to be infected and rose from the dead. In-soon and Ji-hoon furtively took a glance at the sickly-looking Nara but decided to let it go for now.

Hearing the creature pounding against the secure doors of the sub-level, the group decided to resume moving. The safety locks of the doors to the staircase leading up proved too secure, and the group ran to the elevator instead.

Just as they reached the elevator doors, a distant crashing noise informed them the creature was now with them, and apparently it brought friends. Ji-hoon set to opening the elevator while sending a smoke grenade towards the opponents. In-soon completed the picture by shooting a fire extinguisher. The disorientated creature clawed anything nearby, which fortunately only included other infected.

The doors were quickly opened and Nara leaped into the elevator shaft. This proved to be a bad move as due to his sickness and remaining wounds he slowed down everyone by being in the lead. The creature jumped out of the smoke and tried to claw In-soon who barely managed to duck in time.

The agents climbed up to sub-level -2 pursued by some of the infected, when an overhead explosion sent chunks of the elevator shaft tumbling down, catching the infected and sending them down to their deaths. Ji-hoon opened the doors and the three leaped out, as the elevator’s counterweight finally gave in, and crashed into the jiangshi, taking the creature down with it. Ji-hoon looked the falling creature straight in the eyes, finding a worthy nemesis in it.

Now with less pressing circumstances, the agents took their time to search through the next two levels but only found notes on biowarfare research. As they reached the final staircase leading to the surface, they were met with a lethally-wounded man slumped in a corner: the doctor who helped Nara earlier. He and the other evacuees had managed to reach the ground floor but fell into an ambush by unknown assailants who were speaking Japanese. Despite taking a bullet in the gut the doctor managed to crawl his way down again and was awaiting his death. As the agents had no-one who could help him, he asked for two last favors: his medallion to be brought to his daughter, and a bullet in the head. Nara agreed to both.

The group debated their options: go into the ambush or wait until the creature, which Ji-hoon felt was still alive, go first. In the end they decided to assault the ambushers as the creature might be too focused on Ji-hoon.

As they reached the ground level, automatic fire erupted all around them. Nara quickly remembered the floor layout and Ji-hoon sneakily led the three through a possible escape path. Unfortunately, the leader of the Japanese assault team managed to see Nara’s face and mistook him for the director of the facility whom he apparently wanted alive. Nara quickly opened an air duct and the team crawled through as the black ops squad spread out to look for them. Finally they managed to sneak away with a combination of surprise exit and speedy run through the offices.

Once they were out of immediate danger, they decided to continue their mission and retrieve the chip they were originally sent for. On the way, Nara called Kwang Im to inform him that he found what Humax had “stolen” from his employer’s offices: the creature. Kwang was glad for the intel but had more pressing matters getting off the island, however Nara decided to cut the conversation short as they were nearing the last wing of the facility.

Opening the secure door, they found a makeshift barricade at the other end of the hallway waiting for them. Nara used the uniform’s security radio to inform whoever was behind to not open fire as they were approaching. The voice at the other end asked for their location, which Nara happily provided. The voice told Nara to wait. Ji-hoon and In-soon brought their palms to their faces in unison and charged at the barricade, which returned fire. Ji-hoon sprinted towards the barricade, jumped high above and landed on the other side, cutting open one of the people shooting at his colleagues. Nara finally realized his mistake and shouted for the barricade defenders to stop shooting. At the same time, two squad-members of the black ops team caught up. Ji-hoon smiled romantically at one of them, and she decided to wait for reinforcements before charging in.

Behind the barricade the agents were met by two, formerly three, near-hysterical security agents who had no idea what was going on. In-soon introduced the agents as a Humax team who had been ordered by corporate to retrieve the chip schematics, which made the guards angrier than they already were. However they decided to work together on getting out of there anyway.

They joined up with a group of technicians whom the guards were protecting and retrieved the chip and schematics without further issues, however one of the technicians mentioned there was little point in it, since the chip had a flaw that could make a smartphone burst into flames spontaneously.

As the research wing lacked any exit, the team resolved to break open a second-floor window and slide down an electrical cable first, then help the Humax employees. The plan went well until the black ops people caught up and filled one of the security guards with bullets. Everyone else managed to flee into the forest.

The survivors decided to skip the employee car park and went straight to a more distant one where they had left their backup escape plan: three Kawasaki Ninja motorcycles. As they approached the location, they noticed a small number of infected wandering about.

Nara whipped-out his enhanced smartphone and remotely-hacked one of the cars for the employees to use while at the same time GLORIOUSLY directing his teammates into position for a surprise attack on the infected. The attack was methodically executed and went well, with the exception of Ji-hoon letting his sword slip from his hand and smash into a car window, triggering the alarm. In-soon, however, burned the infected to a crisp with his mind.

Two options were available to leave the island: a long bridge to the north, or a tunnel to the south-east. In-soon suggested the bridge as the tunnel would make a good place for an ambush. Everyone boarded their vehicles and drove away.

As they reached the bridge Ji-hoon spotted something looking like an assault helicopter preparing to destroy the bridge. At the same time a transport helicopter emerged behind them with the black ops squad leader intent on capturing Nara and taking out any survivors.

Ji-hoon led the high-speed motorcade through the bridge as In-soon and Nara shot at the troops aboard the transport. The attack helicopter seemed to have some trouble lining up a proper shot, prompting the black ops leader to leap from one helicopter to another in order to personally take care of things. Ji-hoon sped up just as the missile volley hit the bridge, and the motorcade broke through without any further casualties.

Both helicopters broke pursuit and the agents heard the bridge being blown to pieces in the distance behind them. On the way to safety they drove by emergency services speeding towards the island, and they could finally relax, their mission accomplished. Some questions still remained unanswered.
Last edited by Istrian on Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

Istrian
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Re: Make Earth Glorious Again

Postby Istrian » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:47 am

Elgol, Scotland, Aysle-Core Earth, Day 2
Garrick Heinston, Logan MacCormack, Gregor MacConnor, Muir Gilchrist

For the last few months the restoration crew had been hard at work trying to rebuild the old Elgol Castle on the Isle of Skye. Work was very slow as the castle was barely a half-broken tower surrounded by walls that had crumbled to waist height. The last two days had not been any different. The powerful storm was hardly uncommon, and the total breakdown of electronic communication was only a small step down from the usual bad coverage in the area. What set this fine afternoon apart, thought Logan from the top of the tower, was the large fleet of longboats sailing past. He shook his head and looked again: not only there was a fleet sailing past, but one of them was moving towards the beach in Elgol.

Muir ran down the steps and alerted his fellow castle restorers about a ship that was likely to break against the cliffs in this fine weather. Logan and Gregor immediately rushed towards the hamlet to help while Muir and Garrick hurriedly walked behind.

As Logan and Gregor reached Elgol moments later, the village was awash with activity. About a third of the population was running away while shouting something about being under attack, while the remainder quietly watched while commenting on the fine medieval reenactment. Unfortunately the wonderment stopped when the vikings aboard the longboat shot a volley into the air, which took down a small number of civilians.

Muir looked around and found an easily-defensible restaurant at the edge of the hamlet, while Garrick tried to halt the fleeing civilians and force them to go back and defend their families, without success.

Logan and Gregor rolled out a cart in the middle of town to provide some cover from the arrows while evacuating as many people as they could. Muir channeled those people into the restaurant while loading his crossbow. Garrick rushed for the beach and untied some boats and sent them towards the longboat in order to make it look like a trap. The viking leader became highly suspicious and ordered his rowers to turn away from the incoming boats. The waves shook the longboat, sending the leader down into the water, soon followed by some of his subordinates who thought they had reached shallow waters.

The remainder of the vikings quickly recovered and managed to reach the beach, immediately dispersing to crush the opposition and loot the houses. Their skalds began some ritual chanting, which Muir recognized as some sort of magic.

Garrick found himself facing two viking raiders, thus he directed a half-smile and a wink at one of them, who decided that Garrick might be a more interesting fellow than she first thought. Logan and Gregor were quickly overtaken behind their cart by some of the vikings and Muir joined them while exchanging magical blows with the skalds.

The battle was long and arduous, except for Garrick who kept playing mind tricks upon his opponents. Eventually only four of the raiders were left standing, and they quickly fled the scene.

Gregor set to tending to the wounded villagers while Muir tried to organize rescuers, in vain as the people were too frightened or shocked by the events to do anything useful. Logan gathered the vikings’ belongings and went through the houses for anything useful. Garrick discovered he literally did not speak the same language as the viking woman he had just started a romance with, prompting a comedic amount of miming and drawing in the sand.

Muir began looking for some way to prepare for further attacks and was struck with awe as he looked back at the castle they just left. Instead of an old crumbling set of walls it had suddenly changed to a fresh fortified keep, beset by a halo of light from a break in the wall of clouds above.

The group went to the castle, followed by the villagers. One of them became worried when he was unable to find his daughter among those who had fled first. Garrick calmed the hysterical man with a couple of slaps and went to look for any sign of further raids, while promising to keep an eye out for the daughter just in case.

The rest of the group visited the castle. While the fortunate event that led to its restoration was impressive, it was far from perfect. The portcullis barely worked and the walls still had a couple of holes. The castle rooms were empty, with the exception of whatever decorations the restoration team had brought with them for tourists to enjoy later. The basement also turned out to contain a huge sealed gate covered with unknown emblems.

Garrick climbed up the hill opposite the castle, following a series of bootprints he had noticed. What he saw beyond was the neighboring village of Glasnakille, filled with vikings. They were trying to break down house doors while gathering prisoners in the middle. Garrick returned to the castle to warn the others.

One of the villagers saved earlier turned out to speak Swedish, which was a bit similar to what the viking woman was speaking, which enabled some communication with her. She did not know much except they had been told to grab as many prisoners as they could and take the village. Muir deduced their final objective was not simple raiding but conquest, therefore it was necessary to unite as many of the surrounding communities as they could, otherwise the castle would fall.

The group set out on the task at hand.

Dubna, Russia, Tharkold, Day 4
Leonid Slovokin, Alicia Kalachnikova, Elizabeth Poliakova

The group recovered the food and considered their options. They could bring the food back to the odd sphere in Dubna, or they could keep it. The latter option might not be bad if Durgoleiev was indeed a dangerous criminal as the late Major had implied. On the other hand, they had very little information about the Major either.

In the end it was past midnight when they returned to the Dubna Sphere with the food. This time they were welcomed inside, past a makeshift airlock, and into the distrustful looks of ragged refugees who were eyeing them warily. The sphere was split in two layers: the lower, smaller layer that housed about two dozen refugees, and the upper layer with Durgoleiev’s research equipment and personal quarters. Additionally, the interior was the second Core Earth hardpoint they had encountered.

The Moscow Survivors were invited upstairs to discuss the situation with the old researcher. He had been monitoring recent events and was under the impression the country was under nuclear bombardment: he had detected hundreds of earthquakes smaller than Moscow’s, which hinted at secondary explosions. The survivors told him what they knew of the events in Moscow, although, as a man of science, he found it hard to believe Elizabeth’s delirious descriptions of demons. Durgoleiev also revealed the strangeness of the ambient radiation: levels were quickly falling and in a few days would probably reach acceptable thresholds, which was not how radiation was supposed to behave.

The sphere in itself was nothing new. It was a research unit in the middle of a nuclear research institute. It also served as a commemorative statue of scientific advancements in the field.

The group went downstairs to sleep alongside the refugees. The night was short and was interrupted by two sets of massive claws popping out of the sphere’s structure right next to Elizabeth’s face. The sphere shook as refugees woke up in panic, and the survivors prepared to face whatever was coming.

The claws ripped up a metallic plate revealing a massive mutated bear with occultech implants. As Durgoleiev shouted about the deadly dose of radiation everyone would suffer in less than a minute, Leonid GLORIOUSLY leaped upon the back of the bear and forced it to move outside the sphere. Elizabeth quickly organized the refugees to help lift the plate and Alicia used her pyrokinetic powers to seal it back into the structure.

Outside, Leonid was trying to outrun the bear in order to remain alive. Alicia quickly arrived with some canned meat as a distraction and Elizabeth unloaded her shotgun into the creature’s thick hide. Unlike previous opponents, the bear survived but decided to flee.

As the sun was rising, the survivors prepared to leave. They accepted to take refugee children with them to find them a safer place to live. They asked one of the stronger refugees, a man named Ruslan, to come with them to help take care of the children when things go south.

-----

The day was uneventful, apart from a band of roving marauders who tried to catch up with them but quickly became distracted by another potential prey. The survivors had less luck with finding fuel, and by evening were on their last reserves.

They approached a hamlet of a couple dozen buildings with a church’s tower poking out of the roofline. The buildings seemed to be mostly intact. What immediately drew attention, however, were dozens of dead bodies surrounding the village. A few were human soldiers, a large number were similar to the thralls the group had met in the museum, and three were even large techno-demons. A couple of gutted-out tanks topped the cake.

The group approached, still wearing their cosmonaut suits even though the radiation was low enough to not need them. Leonid examined a dead thrall and concluded they had been killed by a single shot of a high-powered weapon. As Alicia approached a demon’s body a mechanical voice resounded from multiple locations, demanding they halt and explain who they were and what they wanted.

Elizabeth told the voice they were survivors from Moscow who were trying to find a safe place for children. At the last mention the voice hesitantly became less hostile and invited them to approach the houses without touching anything. As they did, a humanoid shape went up from one of the technodemons and walked to the village as well.

The shape turned out to be a human in a ghillie suit who introduced himself as Prokhor Alekseyevsky, a hunter who had “stumbled” upon an anti-tank rifle which he had used to take down the invaders. Prokhor led the other three to the church and down a trapdoor into an underground bunker where they talked peacefully.

Prokhor had wandered into the hamlet a few days earlier and found its people being evacuated into the church by the local priest. The priest turned out to be a dangerous egoïst who, over the next few hours, sent people outside to look for food. Prokhor nailed the priest to an outside wall and decided to take care of whoever was still alive. As it turned out all the adults had perished and only two dozen children were left.

During the days that followed the hamlet had been reached by an army unit that demanded everyone evacuate. Prokhor gave them an answer in Morse code: a lot of holes in their tanks. Three groups led by technodemons had attacked as well, followed by a group of raiders. They all seemed to want something that had crashed into the monastery outside town, but for some reason, despite Prokhor telling them to go and take it, they tried to attack him beforehand. The raiders had been smarter and went to the monastery instead, but never came out.

Prokhor had no fuel to offer the survivors, but said the monks in the monastery were probably a vodka-brewing mafia of some kind instead of actual monks. The group was also curious about the object that had crashed into the monastery but Prokhor had no further insights.

Prokhor offered shelter to the survivors for the night, but the group decided to go directly to the monastery. Its outer gates were lying on the ground and led into a small courtyard that probably used to house a vegetable garden. Currently it was covered with the same grey dust as the rest of the landscape. The group proceeded inside and into the entrance hall, to be greeted by two dead raiders lying on the floor. Leonid examined them and determined that one had been gnawed upon while the other had a significant part of its skin burned, probably by acid.

The group slowly proceed towards the closed door at the end of the hall, checking all the other open doors for signs of anything. A communal mess room had two other dead raiders sitting in chairs, their faces on the table. Alicia closed the doors just in case. At one point she spotted a human shadow, but as she pointed her flashlight in its direction, it vanished from the closed meditation room it was inside.

The group reached the closed double-doors at the end of the hall and Leonid pulled one of them open. It led into the chapel, where the group was startled to see a man in monastic robes engrossed in prayer, his back turned to the group. Leonid asked the man his identity, while Elizabeth threatened to shoot if he did not answer. The man remained silent, still facing away from the group. Alicia lit a couple of candles on the altar the monk was facing with pyrokinesis. Leonid immediately spotted the shadow of the man’s hands did not look like hands at all.

At the same time the doors Alicia had closed opened and monks came out. Apart from their shape there was nothing human about them. Their facial features were fused in a horrible funnel while their hands and arms had been replaced by tentacles. Fortunately the creatures proved to lack resilience and Leonid, Alicia and Elizabeth quickly burned or shot half of them. The mutant monks tried to seize Elizabeth, but lacked the strength to keep her from freeing herself.

Finally the last of the nightmarish creatures was dispatched, but not before they had spit acid on Leonid and Alicia, partially melting their cosmonaut suits. Fortunately the geiger counters showed they still had some time before the dose of radiation became lethal or even seriously harmful. Leonid examined a dead monk and also found its stomach had been replaced by a vertical set of jaws, which explained the gnawed raider earlier.

The group pushed on through the chapel and into what probably used to be a storage space for religious paraphernalia. Tonight there was a hole instead. Whatever crashed had gone through the roof above and made a hole in the floor, breaking into the basement below. Basement which apparently also housed a very modern alcohol distillery. The falling object was lying in the middle of it all, a small rock-like object that kept emitting blue and red lightning.

Alicia floated down to it but was struck by the strange lightning that seemed to drain the strange energy she had been feeling for the last few days. She tried moving closer to it to examine it while still being gripped by lightning. After some gruelling moments where she was unsure who she was or what was real or not, she managed to break through the lightning, and the object seemed to calm down. Unfortunately Alicia had suffered a very harmful dose of radiation in the process due to her damaged suit.

The object was made of strange metal and contained unusual and very advanced circuitry. It clearly was a piece of something much larger but Alicia had no idea what it could be. In the meantime Leonid and Elizabeth found stairs leading down and joined Alicia. They grabbed the strange item, some heavy bottles of vodka and headed out. On the way they gathered the dead monks’ bodies and set fire to them.

Still a bit distrustful of Prokhor they spent the night in their truck and moved on at first light, avoiding the minefield around the village Prokhor had put up for self-defence.

Road to St Petersburg, Russia, Tharkold, Day 5

About an hour away from the hamlet, the group ran into a fat Russian motioning for them to stop. He introduced himself as Matvey, just a guy from St Petersburg who was looking for business opportunities for his employer. Leonid mentioned they found some odd technological implants, prompting Matvey to give them his employer’s card. Then he walked away.

The first half of the day was uneventful and fruitful. Leonid found a supermarket filled to the brim with supplies. Two groups of raiders had tried to raid it at the same time and killed each other, also leaving their vehicles’ fuel for the taking. As radiation had gone down making it safe to drive without a suit, they decided to take an extra car for additional space and Ruslan and Elizabeth went into it.

As they were approaching the last stretch to St Petersburg, the ground shook and out of the bushes shot multiple vehicles: half a dozen motorbikes, a couple of very large junker cars, and a futuristic blast from the past.

The three survivors cursed as they recognized the former Soviet land fortress tank, now heavily transformed to the Tharkold reality. A large chrome skull served as the prow and seemed to be leaking blood. Spikes poked out of the vehicle like a crown, and the turrets had been replaced with their plasma equivalent. One of the turrets seemed to be active, under the control of a human who was plugged directly into it and was screaming in pain. The raiders’ leader, Samandriel, was standing upon the bridge and yelling at the survivors to surrender and pay for the pain they had inflicted her pack.

The group decided to press on to St Petersburg. Unfortunately in front of them a collapsed bridge prompted them to drive off the road. Ruslan lost control of his vehicle and the old Elizabeth pulled him (and herself) out and leapt towards the truck while their former car fell off the bridge.

The raiders’ cars and motorbikes proved to be slow off-road, however a well-placed series of shots pierced Ruslan through and through, and Elizabeth was reluctantly forced to let the dead man go. The tank however had no trouble using shortcuts to keep up with the faster truck, and thralls jumped onto the top of the truck, facing Elizabeth.

In the cabin, Alicia was having difficulty driving due to the tortuous visions she had been suffering from for the last few days, and Leonid switched places with her. The tank’s plasma turret rained death upon the survivors, heavily damaging the truck and forcing the survivors to hang on for their dear lives. Samandriel alternated between threatening the driver with more pain than they could stand, and goading them to stand and fight instead of running.

As the truck was on its last wheels, Leonid noticed heavy storms around St Petersburg and decided to give it his all and put all his weight on the pedal. Samandriel aimed for a final shot against Leonid to stop the truck. As she pulled the trigger the truck entered the storm and the thralls on top decided to jump away.


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