The Brinkmanship

Amidst the traffic of the local shuttle terminals, a baggage attendant seems eager to speak with you.

Level: 10
Start: Baggage Attendant Troy, Local Shuttles, Yards of Gadani

Introduction

The baggage attendant points to you before physically pleading for a word. He beckons you near.

You have accepted the "The Brinkmanship" mission.

  • Approach the baggage attendant.

The baggage attendant seems relieved, yet anxious at your approach.

Baggage Attendant Troy says: Um … excuse me, <name>? You are <name>, right?

  • Deny and walk away.
  • "That's me."

Deny:

Me: I’m sorry, ser. Wrong person.

The baggage attendant becomes frantic.

Me: No, wait! Please! You are <name>, aren’t you?

  • "Really, no. Leave me alone."

The baggage attendant frowns in dejected failure.

You have failed the "The Brinkmanship" mission. You can retake this mission and try again.

That's me:

Me: What do you need? Are you looking for me?

With sweat beading at his brow, he quickly shoves a small and faded piece of old plastic parchment into your hand. On the parchment is a series of sloppily printed digits.

Baggage Attendant Troy says: I don’t know anything, ser. All I know is that … well, someone approached me with this thing, told me who to look for, said you were due to arrive. I was told to tell you to go to the bar, you should put that code into a secure call channel of your CORETECHS from the bar. That’s all I know. She paid me some credits and split. You’ve got the code now. She seemed to know more about me than I’d like. So, I did it and now it’s done. Enjoy your stay, ser.

The baggage attendant quickly returns to work. The stress and tension of his form is lifted.

Travel to the bar to use the code.

Next NPC: 42-2001-1984-1138, Bar, Yards of Gadani

  • Dial the digits from the plastic parchment.

You activate the code through a secure channel call from within your CORETECHS. A familiar voice responds.

**Mikel says: Alright, listen …

  • "Who is this?"
  • Demand that HE listen.

Who:

Me: Who is this? A baggage attendant gave me this code … which is weird in itself …

Mikel says: Who is this?! This is Mikel, <name>! Mikel! … Omni-Reality node seeker, Mikel … Tau Station Mikel! Good-looking silver haired fella? One eye? Ring any buzzers?

  • Do not recognize.
  • Recognize.

Recognize:

Me: OH! Mikel. Got it.

*Mikel says:** So, like I was saying …

  • "Hello, Mikel."

Me: How have things been? Strange way to reach me. What do you need?

Mikel says: Ah, you know. Tau Station is … you know, busy as ever. Who can complain? Big station life agrees with me, although I hate to stay in one place for long. So, about this call, we need to talk. I caught word that you were way out on the way to Yards of Gadani. Fortune smiles, because I need a favor.

  • "What kind of favor?"

A slightly intoxicated Patrician grins at you from the bar. Through the CORETECHS, Mikel draws in a deep breath and huffs a sigh before continuing.

Mikel says: There’s a node. There’s a node on Yards of Gadani. I want it found before the Janissaries can swoop in and ice the entire thing. I need you to find it, log into it, get me all the info you can from it. You know I can pay you for the trouble. I need to be here to transmit whatever data you dig up while there.

The tone of his words grows quiet and serious.

Mikel says: Help me, ‘Only <name>, Shinobi.’ You’re my only hope.

  • "Janissaries?"
  • Agree to assist.
  • End conversation, refusing to help.

Janissaries:

Mikel says: Yeah, Janissaries. Weird, pale creeps. Wear black a lot and might be up to some unscrupulous shenanigans, which is an unsubstantiated claim, but a working theory of mine. Possibly unrelated. Probably unrelated. Anyway, they want the information from the omni-reality nodes and I want them more. So, let’s find that node.

  • End conversation, refusing to help.
  • Agree to assist.

Agree:

Me: Okay, Mikel. Omni-reality node hunting. I can do that. Where do we start?

Mikel says: I have a strong suspicion that it’s down a road less traveled. I’m thinking the ruins there on Yards of Gadani. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure it would have been found by now. Once you’re there, dial me back and I’ll let you know if my attuning mechanism is picking up anything on a nearby scan frequency.

  • Agree to connect with Mikel from the ruins.

Me: Alright. Give me some travel time and I’ll patch back into these digits from the ruins.

Mikel says: I knew I could count on you. You’re no mere Ruins Rat, Shadow. You’re a special Ruins Rat.

Mikel disconnects.

Travel to the ruins and look for an omni-reality node.

Next NPC: Mikel, Ruins, Yards of Gadani

  • Enter Mikel's code to connect.

You enter the ruins. A distant echo of gunshots bounces off of the surrounding debris. A voice responds through your CORETECHS just as soon as the digits are entered.

Mikel says: <name>! In the ruins, I trust? Grant me access to our locator protocol?

You switch on your location tool through the secure CORETECHS channel.

Mikel says: I’m getting an instant reading! I don’t think you should linger long. Move forward then veer to the left, your left.

  • Move forward slightly, then take a few steps left.
  • Stand still.

Move:

You move as directed.

*Me:** Okay, now what?

The sounds of a scuffle seem to be drawing closer.

Mikel says: … Uh … Hard to say. Keep walking straight ahead, if you can.

An enormous crossbeam blocks the path. There is no room to crawl under it. You may be able to climb over. Veering around will take you far off the track, but might be easiest.

  • Try to climb over the crossbeam.
  • Try to find your way along and around the crossbeam.

Around:
(costs Focus)

The beam seems far too tall to scale. You decide to follow in along until an opening is located.

Me: This thing is huge!

Mikel says: You’re moving too far away. The signal is weakening. Get back on the path.

Finding a small opening, you wedge your body through, nearly tripping. A small jog finds you back on track.

  • Ask about the signal.

Me: So, how is this working? You are following where I go to find the node?

Mikel says: The device I'm using is a prototype that I’ve been working on. These simulation nodes, the Omni-Reality devices, give off a very specific sort of ping. It’s faint, so … by using you and your CORETECHS as an amplifier of sorts, I can triangulate the signal like a magnet.

Mikel sucks in a sudden gasp.

Mikel says: WAIT!

  • Stop moving.
  • Keep walking.

Stop:

You stop all movement and look around.

Mikel says: Okay. Right there. What do you see?

You appear to be in a narrow alley that once ran between two warehouses. The huge structures have collapsed into themselves. There are beams of metal bent down from the trauma of incredible pressure.

  • Tell him what you see.

Me: There isn’t much here. Two big warehouse storage things, total mess between.

Mikel says: What’s under you? You’re right on top of something!

You look down to spy layers of destroyed materials, crumbled street, bent metals, and regocrete rubble.

Me: Junk.

Mikel says: Can you move the junk?

  • Remove the debris.

(costs Focus)

You kneel and begin to clear away what seems to be ages of filth. Large panels, presumably from the decrepit warehouses, are difficult to lift, but you eventually do so, revealing a hatch.

  • Report the findings.

Me: There’s an old security panel hatch here. What should I do?

Mikel says: Open it!

A hostile voice shouts something indistinguishable from somewhere nearby. They don’t appear to be shouting at you, but they isn’t too far away. When you look back to the hatch, there is evidence that the sub-level hatch connects to the surrounding warehouses via wiring.

  • Open the hatch.

You apply the force necessary to release the turn-lock mechanism for the hatch. Although a lock mechanism exists, the destroyed thing crumbles under pressure. There, down in a narrow cylinder, is a softly glowing beacon of sorts. You have found the node and it still has power. A connection helmet rests on a cradle attached to the node shell.

Me: I think this is it.

Mikel says: <name>! You wonderful thing! That’s it! Connect to it! Just as before, look into the eyes and your CORETECHs will do the rest.

Return to the Ruins

Next step: Ruins, Yards of Gadani

  • Access the Omni Reality Engine

You look into the strange, stylized helmet's 'eyes' just as you had done on Tau Station. As before, your CORETECHs begins to analyse the signal but, this time, the connection is faster, smoother. Rather than the wrenching sensation your senses experienced the first time round, this time the world around you melts away in an almost pleasant fashion. No dizzying maelstrom of sight and sound assaults you and, between one blink and the next, you float back down to a ground you never remember having stood on, with out ever having left it. Your brain struggles a moment to make sense of this paradox but, like a waking dream, the thought slips through your perception like water running through the fingers of your mind.

Reality very soon coalesces into the digital landscape you remember from your first journey to the virtual world. Angular and unrealistically colored trees and bushes make up your immediate surroundings while further along, strange formations stretch out towards the horizon. In front of you, and looking distinctly out of place, a fish bowl rests atop what appears to be a stone hand jutting out of the ground.

  • Inspect the fishbowl.
  • Interact with the Fishbowl.
  • Inspect your surroundings.

Surroundings:

A sanguine sky glitters along the horizon. Cracked and dusty plains extend in all directions around you, ending in a distant forest on one side and a strange mountain range on the other. The only object of note in the area is the strange, hand shaped basin before you that holds a crystal clear fishbowl.

  • Interact with the Fishbowl.
  • Make your way to the mountain.
  • Inspect the fishbowl.

Inspect:

Nestled between the five stone fingers of the pedestal wrought in the shape of a hand is a crystalline fishbowl. Looking inside, you notice that the tiny, stylized landscape under the digital water matches the land that stretches on around you. A small clump of plastic trees matches the forest to your right. A little rock formation seems to correspond to a mountain on the horizon to your left. You notice two fish in the bowl, one seems to tread water above the location that seems to represent where you are standing. Another fish swims in and out of the small caves of the 'mountain'.

  • Make your way to the mountain.
  • Look closely at the two fish.
  • Interact with the Fishbowl.

Look closely:

The fish that swims around the tiny mountain range seems to change and shift in color. It even seems to grow and shrink in size every time it emerges from one of the minuscule caves. The second fish, one that swims above a tiny hand shaped structure, seems to match you as closely as possible, in so far as a fish can look like a human.

  • Make your way to the mountain.
  • Interact with the Fishbowl.

Interact:

You dip a finger into the bowl, reaching for the little mountain range. A chill sweeps up your arm as the 'water' suddenly flows up your hand and past your shoulder, quickly enveloping your entire form.

Suddenly, you seem to be shooting through the landscape towards the distant mountain range that clearly corresponds to the mini toy pile of rocks within the fishbowl. The digitized landscape below you soars past at dizzying speeds as your body hurtles through the virtual sky. Forests and fields flow past your vision before the mountains suddenly zoom into focus, now covering the horizon.

Before long, your bullet-like journey through the digital landscape has come to an end and you gently float down to alight halfway up the mountain. Before you, rising like a dark maw in the side of the rock face, is the entrance to a dark cavern.

  • Proceed into the cave.

You move into the cave. A brief darkness gives way to a soft glow coming from around the corner and, as you proceed, you discover several glowing neon arrows placed around the cave walls. They direct you deeper along the dark passage and create a fairly surreal effect. Before long you reach what appears to be your destination, the biggest clue being that a multitude of glimmering arrows all converge to point at what appears to be humanoid standing silently in the center of the cavern chamber.

Before you stands an oddly shimmering figure. Height, gender, build, all seem to shift and blur, as if it cannot decide what it wants to be. Its features are obscured by what appears to be an ancient looking gas mask. When it speaks, it does so in an odd amalgam of voices that is, however, quite familiar to you.

The Cyrano: Greetings <name>. We are the Cyrano. We have interfaced with the Omni Reality Network Hub on the station below in order to communicate/interface with you. There is much to tell, and little time/opportunity. Our presence has been noted by other non binary units.

  • "Are you my mommy?"
  • "Am I going crazy, or are you starting to make sense?"

Make sense:

Me: Am I going crazy, or are you starting to make sense?

The Cyrano: I am able to reach/achieve temporary levels of increased cognitive resonance/synergy as time passes. The Omni Reality Engine also serves to increase/enhance the virtual pool of processing power at my/our disposal. Unanimous agreement is not always possible/available however. Differing semantics/cultures result in complex output/communication. Thus the occasional duality in my/our speech patterns.

The Cyrano: This unit/vessel is one of four Omni Reality Network Cruisers., the others being The Sauvignon, The Hercule, and The Bergerac. In the time/life you refer to as Before, these unit's purpose was to house, protect, and monitor the population of non binary units that had chosen to exist within a simulated reality.

You listen intently as the strange, multi-voiced Cyrano continues its tale.

The Cyrano: At the time of the Catastrophe, an external agency sought to disrupt and infiltrate this unit's systems. The non binary units on board ceased organic functions and I/this unit found the only recourse was to download their collective consciousnesses onto my systems/mainframe. The result has been…distracting. When you activated/initiated the Omni-Reality Engine on Tau Station, an opportunity presented itself. If enough of the networks are brought back online, if a large enough repository can be formed, this unit/I can download the non binary units now binary instances into a permanent digital housing. This will allow me/this unit to continue my now primary function. Locating the other three.

  • "So you're somewhere in orbit right now?"

Me: So you're somewhere in orbit right now?

The Cyrano: After a fashion. The non-binary units have discovered my presence, if not my exact location. I am…somewhat masked/hidden. This unit must leave this system, another Omni-Reality network hub exists in Bernard's Star. For what I suspect are a blend of security and resource related reasons, individual gate keys can only be digitally salvaged from fallen vessels. This ensures there is a finite number and for this reason have I been lying in wait in the darkness above the station.

  • "You need a gate key!"

Me: You need a gate key!

The Cyrano: This is correct/accurate. This unit can manipulate the system to acquire/purloin such a key. The complication arises in that I require physical presence. I can bypass the Omni-Reality Engine's safeguards and allow you to maintain an active link. Furthermore, I will disable visual input so that you may operate unhindered. You shall see/perceive the world around you while maintaining an open link right here to me. You shall, in essence, stand in two worlds at once, both the physical as well as the digital.

  • "There's a 'but' coming right?"

Me: There's a 'but' coming right?

The Cyrano: Negative. There is, though, a 'however'. As in: However, you will need to breach the physical firewall in place. This completely blocks/repels any attempts to breach the station's internal mesh (and, subsequently, where the keys are stored before upload to the trade networks). It cannot be breached by digital means. However, as you will maintain a link to me here, all you need to do is physically place yourself beyond the firewall. In this case, this is within the government center.

Suddenly the cave and your digital surroundings fade away, you stand in the ruins once more. Oddly, you can still feel certain senses reacting to impulses from within the virtual world. You do not see the cavern anymore, but sounds still echo as if off rock walls, your skin feels a damp that is not there. And you still hear the Cyrano's voice.

The Cyrano: I have disabled the visual impulses of the Omni-Reality network while overriding the proximity protocols. You remain here, within the cave, even while you interact with the physical world. The connection is open, all that you need to do now is to get me to the government center.

Go to the government center.

Next NPC: Major Stannis, Government Center, Yards of Gadani

  • You're in the Government Center.

In the control room of the government center, Major Stannis seems to have been in mid-sentence as he turns to you.

Major Stannis says: And YOU! What’s your name. <name>? Mind telling me why you’re hacking into the mesh of the station! Do you have any idea how serious a crime it is to go tampering around with the inner workings of …

A technician meekly interrupts.

The comms technician says: Um … Major Stannis, ser, we seem to have a bit of a …

Major Stannis says: NOT NOW HOLLISTER!

  • Listen to Major Stannis.

Major Stannis says: As I was saying … I don’t know how things have functioned on the OTHER stations that you’ve been on, but on Yards of Gadani, well, you do not get to just go poking around for … whatever is it you’re … are you with the Gaule Protectorate? Hm?! Something of an SAG agent, are ya? How conveniently odd that you should be here JUST when we're searching for that rogue Gaulish vessel!

Again, the soft-spoken comms technician turns from his console and tries to interject.

The communication technician says: Major Stannis, ser, there is a fairly serious distress …

Major Stannis says: DAMN YOUR ACTUAL STARS, HOLLISTER! Can you not see that I’m in the middle of asking this SA —-what?!

Technician Hollister says: Distress call, ser. From the Tanegashima Fleet commander, they are port of the station, is hailing with a message about the ships in their flotilla sir.

Major Stannis says: What are they blathering about now? All were present and accounted for!

Hollister says: That's just it sir…they say there is one ship too many…

Major Stannis, pauses for a moment, his eyes slowly widening in understanding. He whips around to a console that shows a flotilla of ships above the station. One of them, right at the center, seems familiar to you.

Return to Secretariat Building

Next step: Government Center, Yards of Gadani

  • Slip out amongst the impending chaos.

Stannis: THAT'S IT!! IT'S THE CYRANO! TARGET….

Hollister: Sir!! Incoming transmission! The commander of the flotilla is saying…actually he's shouting.. i can't understand. He say's the ships are haunted? No.. possessed! I think.. he means their navicomputers sir! They've been hijacked!

Suddenly, the room is in a chaos. Stannis is shouting at his men, hurling abuse at the screen. Trying not to smirk, you begin to slowly move out of the room. As you leave, completely unnoticed in the hubbub, you watch the monitor showing the flotilla. The entire fleet moves away from the station as one, with one very familiar ship right in the center, protected by a host of, temporarily you assume, shanghaied and no doubt panicking vessels of the Yasutsuna Corporation.

Grinning at the sounds of anger and panic behind you, you hastily make yourself scarce. As you leave the room, you feel a tingling sensation as the connection to the Omni-Reality network is lost. One final message from the Cyrano directs you to a freshly delivered parcel bearing the markings of the Yasutsuna Corporation outside the government center. Opening it, you cannot help but grin as you wonder when and where you will encounter The Cyrano again. You pocket the credits within and move swiftly on…

You have received 250.00 credits.

You have completed the "The Brinkmanship" mission.

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