Warp World

I will teach you to hate

The party rocked on the observation deck, threatened by the combined heat of the molten pools beneath them and pilot lights lit up on the piping affixed to the bottom of the deck. On the center of the deck the anvil snake coiled itself, pulling itself at high speed across the platform by the magnetic pull that seemed to hold it together. It collided into Pseudo and turned just before reaching the edge of the platform, pulling Pseudo alongside it.

The snake collided into Fim’s field to little effect. Pseudo hopped over its midsection and joined One in evasive maneuvers as Fim dispersed his plasma blasters inside of his shell, blasting the ceiling of the chamber. Tai hung above the floor of the deck as jets of flame covered it, burning its occupants. Pseudo dipped into its nightmarish origins and attempted to terrorize any possible mind of the beast, finding that it seemed to react fearfully to these assaults. One dropped a matter bomb recovered from the facility onto the platform and put some distance between itself and the snake, who lashed helplessly at Fim and knocked Pseudo about. Tai webbed the “head” of the snake to the edge of the platform, directing his comrades around the pilot lights beneath the floor.

Fim shoved the snake nearly completely off of the edge of the deck with his gravitational control. One’s matter bomb detonated as One used its unusual physiology to create a miniature black hole just above the molten pool, dragging the snake downward as it attempted to pull itself back on the platform. After landing damaging blows on Pseudo and One, the snake finally succumbed to the damage inflicted on it and slid into the pool below.

Disabling the flame jets and taking a moment to assemble themselves, the party decided to find their aggressor. Removing the blockage in the ceiling track, they pushed the deck forward to the edge of the chamber. Amid the machines and conveyor belts on the floor, their orb-like nemesis was reaching out with its many appendages, burying itself inside layers of junk and rubble. One was perplexed to find its nemesis in a non-threatening position, and Fim and Tai moved to try and examine it closer.

Fim lifted away pieces of the orb’s makeshift shield, resulting in a tug of war of sorts. Tai webbed any tendrils he saw that looked aggressive as Fim floated in front of the orb’s single reptilian eye. It regarded him without much interest until he got very close, at which point it began to poke and prod the outside of his shell. Fim did not fight even as it put a tendril through his shell, feeling around inside. It found the base of Fim’s neck and pressed something sharply into his flesh. Fim lost his composure for a moment and regarded Tai, not rationally able to regard him as an ally. Almost as an instinctual act, Fim lifted a single hand outside of his shell and fired off a plasma blast at Tai and nearly knocking him from his perch. Watching himself do this shook Fim of his affliction and he reached up to his neck, removing a chip that had been placed there. At once Fim, Tai and One blasted the orb until it stopped moving, pausing after the dust settled.

Fim cautiously turned the orb to face him, removing a glass face plate and reaching inside to attempt to determine its inner workings. He found rudimentary life support cables attached to a flaming green reptilian eye, and removed this unusual specimen. Unable to find anything out of the ordinary, he placed it inside of the mini refrigerator he kept behind him with the intent of getting back to it later. After several moments the fridge exploded in green flame-Fim hastily removed the eye and watched as the fridge’s rudimentary legs warped into something more animate. He sat it down on the ground and watched as it went about its own business, finding a warm spot by one of the pools and sprawling out.

Pseudo excitedly asked if Fim could repeat the procedure for its robotic drone. Fim, viewing Pseudo as a kind of pet, humored this idea and animated the amalgam of a boom box and floating sentry drone. This, too, warped into some kind of animate construct and began to examine the room. Fim realized that this organ could animate inorganic matter, turning it into a reptilian construct. He was content to leave the fridge to its own devices, but the drone had proven useful for protecting Pseudo and the nightmare creature had hopes of keeping it. Fim anointed the recovered chip with the groups Node-infused blood and installed it into the drone, allowing the group to control it with simple mental pushes, and gave the eye to Pseudo to carry.

The party went to the hangar door that Tai had discovered earlier, unable to find a way to open it. Some rationalization between Fim and One helped Fim realize that the lock keeping him from reviving the prototype soldier army may have been lifted, and the group returned to that chamber to attempt to open the door and revive the soldier. Fim stopped briefly in the nano vat room to collect some samples in empty shell casings. They recovered Roberto, who had been amorously pursuing the first prototype soldier to be awakened, Fathiyya, who was still pacing about the room. She regarded Fim with suspicion as usual as he entered and unceremoniously went up to the console and awoke the army. The room filled with the released gases as the women stepped out of their tubes in flawless unison and looked to Fathiyya with a look of subordination. Curiosity appropriately sated, Fim uncharacteristically wished Fathiyya well with her new found leadership and floated out of the room.

Back in the metal works the party had discovered a factory line of war vehicles somehow assembled from the molten pools. Commandeering one for themselves, Tai drove them east toward their next destination, the apparent landing area for Fim’s race. Finding that the amazon army led by Fathiyya was close on their heels, Fim made a point to fly over and declare a tentative truce with her. Several bumpy hours into their journey and well into the evening, the group came to their first large obstacle-a debris filled crater that posed an opportunity to alter their vehicle.

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The beast's lair

Pseudo, who had been at the back of the party before they charged into the vat room, had been held back by a whistle coming from within its radiation cloak. Experiencing a mixture of excitement and curiosity Pseudo found that its recovered snallygaster egg had hatched. Discarding the shell and wrapping the snallygasterling in its cloak, Pseudo wheeled into the room as the lights flickered out and the party tried to pull themselves together.

Tai, who had been knocked unconscious by his fall from the ceiling, began to stir on the far side of the room. Not yet able to stir himself completely, he looked over at the remains of the turret that had antagonized him. The nearest vat of frothing nanomachines spilled out over the side and onto part of the turret. Tai watched in helpless horror as it reassembled itself and began to pull itself toward him. The animated metal piece attached itself to Tai’s forehead and optic nerve, and Tai found that he was not injured by this former enemy but enhanced by it. He looked at the room through six new pairs of eyes, finding that if he focused on one spot, a rudimentary laser sight appeared at that point of contact.

Fim had been tinkering with his hand blasters. When he fired at one of the raptor constructs at point-blank range, Fim pulled his hands from outside of his force field a second sooner than usual. This made the laser disperse through the force field and radiate outward. Fim mused on this, deducing that if he fired from inside the field and risked personal harm he might be able to attack a number of enemies if surrounded.

ONE stared down the hallway through with the reptilian orb had escaped. ONE recognized this as a nemesis, of sorts, and the rage evoked by the sight of the creature threatened to pull him apart. ONE restrained his rage and considered the ramifications of voluntarily embracing it as a form of controlled demolition.

Roberto’s adaption to the Nodes had been a violent one. His occasional mutations appeared more frequently as of late and this came to a head when, in a flash of purple light, Roberto stood, alive and restored to his humanity in the center of the room. This lasted long enough for the others to notice before another flash of light occurred and Roberto was back to his former, undead self.

Fim noticed that the door through which the prototype soldier had been thrown had stopped being hit from the opposite side. He took this as a possible indication that she may be less inclined to beat on him, and so he hacked the door lock and proceeded down the hallway into a scavenged armory. He passed over some odds and ends that the rest of the group recovered, and then sent Roberto down another hallway and through a door he knew led to the room that contained the countless numbers of soldier prototypes. Roberto found the object of his amazonian affection standing among what appeared to be a legion of her sisters.

Not hearing the sounds of battle from inside, the rest of the party entered. The woman tensed up at the sight of Fim, who had been the target of her aggression in their earlier encounter. After a few moments of silence, she turned to face the tubes again and ruminated that she did not know what was wrong with their occupants. In a surprising show of diplomacy, Fim asked to be let near the console so that he could investigate. After stating that she did not trust him because the facility, and this army were created in reaction to Fim’s kind, the woman conceded. Fim tinkered with the system, discovering that the army had simply been put into stasis and was awaiting activation from within the bunker that never came. Curious at her mention of his kind, Fim attempted to investigate his species via the computer, but was only able to find the destination of the army following activation: a city-sized, perfectly spherical gray area on the satellite map, some 200 miles east.

Fim told the prototype soldier that her clones were fine, to which she responded that they were not like her. He asked her name and if she knew what her purpose was, or whether the army would attack him if he awoke them. She called herself Fathiyya, and got defensive at the inquiry regarding awaking the army, saying that the bunker was not safe in its current state. Fim requested that she attempt to reason with them if he awoke them, and upon trying to run the executable file to release the army of prototype soldiers, found himself on the wrong side of an instance lock placed by an outside force.

As Fim considered this, Tai and Pseudo bombarded the woman with questions about herself while she fended off the advances of Roberto. ONE requested that he be let near the computer in order to investigate his own personal history. Oddly curious about herself, Fathiyya was sympathetic to ONE’s plight. ONE was able to discern was that the bunker had been functional for 175 years and shut down 150 years ago. In a subcategory containing project SAUR, responsible for the instance lock on the prototype solider army, ONE found project ION, instituted 153 years ago, shut down 151 years ago, and manually reactivated in the past week.

Pseudo’s snallygasterling at last refused to be stifled. Pseudo tried to feed it some of its dome rations, not considering that they had been intended for Nodes and Node Hosts. While unusual noises were nothing new from Pseudo, the others distinctly sensed another presence in their midst. Tai chastised Pseudo for its recklessness while Fim tried to make a case for experimenting on it. Eventually the party decided to address this later.

Somewhat out of options, Fim left Fathiyya to her own devices and returned to the vat room to investigate the nanomachines. After some rudimentary examinations he sealed the vats as a preventative measure for further spills, and waited for the remainder of the crew to arrive to investigate the unexplored hallway, glowing with orange light and radiating heat.

When the party at last descended into the depths of the bunker, they found a sprawling, multi-level slag works built towards an unknown end. Tai scouted the area in the hopes of finding their enemy, but instead found a huge door purportedly leading to the surface and a series of machines and conveyor belts not currently in use. Avoiding the pools of molten lead that dotted the floor of the area, he returned back to the entryway. ONE sensed the residual energies of his opposite coming from an observation deck, which was able to travel through the area via a series of tracks in the ceiling. Confident that he could track their foe, he grabbed a piece of its telltale rubble and activate the foot pedal to send the observation deck forward.

After reading a particularly large pool of lead, the deck stuttered to a halt, and the malevolent orb came into view. Massive cable tendrils disassembled machinery from lower levels, affixing pipes to the underside of the observation deck as the party looked on. After disappearing for a few moments, the orb tossed dozens of anvils topside and then blasted them with a fiery green beam. The anvils, crackling with a green energy, affixed themselves to one another to form a huge anvil snake that grated against itself as it moved, emitting a sound like a cacophonous roar. The party noticed pilot lights igniting beneath the floor of the death as the snake slivered into attack position.

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Trying times

Roberto managed to make his way to the head of the group and entered into the corridor, drawing the attention of four ceiling-mounted rocket turrets in the hallway to his left. As two of them exploded within impact distance a residual energy well drew Roberto from his footing on solid ground into the sloping hallway, but he managed not to fall on the slippery floor.

Paradox followed in the footsteps of his doppelganger and Roberto, stopping as the turrets came into view. His inherent paranoia led him to scan the rest of the room; he noticed two sets of laser mesh crossing the hall and several odd sets of tiles raised off of the floor. Taking aim, he fired a time paradox at the nearest turret, warping it from the ceiling onto the floor in the first laser mesh. Before it disappeared the turret seemed to absorb the energy of the shot. As it appeared harmlessly in the mesh, it sprouted a pair of rudimentary legs and again took aim at the trespassers.

Tai climbed to the ceiling much as a flame would, entering the room and staring a turret down face to barrel. With several of his free hands he let forth a burst of fire that burned the turret hot red, but the effect seemed to linger longer than normal.

Fim waited outside in the darkened hall and watched these events intently. Seeing an opportunity he floated into the room, taking brief note of the trapped hallway, and placed himself in front of a circuit panel on the far side. Finding a correlation between the power grid and the traps, he began to fiddle with the wiring and ended up crushing Roberto using the unsteady floor panels. Fim didn’t notice this. Instead, the self-repairing system attempted to lock him out and defend itself, giving him a substantial shock and provoking a more aggressive response from him. As he descended, Roberto saw a computer console at the far end of the room and moved toward it, setting off traps and narrowly evading the turrets’ fire.

This continued for a few minutes. Fim fought with the power controls, opting to disable what the team ascertained to be adaptive rocket turrets. In the end, Roberto and Paradox lay unconscious at the foot of the incline, and Tai found himself trapped in between the hallway’s laser fences staring down a laser turret as it came back online. A point-blank shot pulled him from the ceiling and very nearly onto a crushing panel on the floor.

Pseudo, who had been preoccupied with its recovered egg and alarmed by the explosions and lights coming from the chamber, mustered up its courage and effortlessly wheeled into the hall. Fim’s efforts to sabotage the system and Pseudo’s natural agility came together in an excellent harmony, ending with a leap over the final trapped floor panel and with Pseudo taking pot shots at the turrets as it tried to stabilize Roberto and Paradox.

Another rocket barrage forced Tai into the laser mesh, sustaining severe injuries and losing consciousness as his flame went out. Some feet away, Paradox composed himself and climbed the ramp to rescue his ally. Tai was pulled to his feet ran/climbed to the nearest door to escape. His act of heroism completed, Paradox felt the floor shudder beneath him and propel him into the ceiling. The force of the blow stunned him and as it lowered, the tile deposited him onto the level ground by Pseudo and Roberto.

As he came back to his senses, Paradox felt a breach in the shell of his armor. Knowing the consequences of this, he reached for help to the others. It was too late. His innate temporal instability pulled him apart and out of existence. The others paused for a moment and went back to their efforts as though Paradox had been there. Truthfully, he had never been. His disappearance marked a fork in the time line, and his former allies were left to question why they had come to this infernal bunker in the first place.

Fim had sustained a number of injuries from his interactions with the power console, while below Pseudo tinkered with its own computer. Roberto lay on the floor unconscious and several feet away Tai lay in the door of their supposed escape route, unable to help given the extent of his injuries.

Pseudo examined the console further, noticing a power grid that it did not know was similar to the one that Fim was looking at, except for a minor detail: from this position, the traps were all connected. Running its monstrous hands over the keyboard, Pseudo managed to disable the hallway temporarily. Fim was not convinced he could make it, and continued tinkering with the topside panel.

As the threat of the turrets returned the pair independently fought with their respective tasks, until finally the traps were disabled and Fim could safely float down the passageway. Tai glanced into the adjacent darkened room and suggested that everyone take a knee before they proceed in order to patch up their wounds and recover.

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A Friend in Death

After some deliberation, Tai managed to trip the bunker’s motion-sensitive door and get a glimpse at the battle inside. He was startled to see the silent, transparent shape of an ancient soldier run across the threshold. Paradox felt his head ache as again, his mysterious nemesis and doppelganger appeared in the doorway and was disassembled by a pair of lasers originating from inside. Some creature in the bunker screeched, and as the party looked on they saw feathers and a large shadow move about the interior.

Tai and Paradox rushed inside, with Pseudo and Fim taking up the rear. A pair of ghost soldiers engaged a snallygaster, a huge eagle-like bird with tentacles surrounding its terrible beak. It noticed Tai as he entered and, thankfully missing him, cut the door behind him in half with lasers that emanated from its primary set of eyes.

The soldiers fired erratically around the room, having little effect on the beast but wounding the new intruders. Focusing their attacks on the snallygaster, the party managed to trap it in a corner as it snapped free from Tai’s flaming webs and bashed a hole in the ceiling of the chamber.

Amid the sounds of combat, Fim recognized the possibility that he may not have been the only being held inside of the bunker. Examining the faulty lights of the room and the myriad horrors that only now had begun to run wild in the complex, he deduced that the power to this area must have been somehow damaged in Dome Foo’s recovery of his body.

Tai took advantage of his periodic mutation to conjure a mini black hole in the room, which pulled everyone near it. This proved dangerous, as the snallygaster buffeted him and his allies with its wings and then buried its beak deep into his chest. Fim and Paradox found themselves grappled by its many facial tentacles.

Paradox noticed one of the ghost soldiers they had engaged come out from the door to the auxiliary room it had been using as cover. He shot the snallygaster with his temporal gun, sending it through a time slip and into the cramped room. Fim got into position and fired his newly acquired laser rifle, destroying it and painting the insides of the room with feathers and entrails.

The final ghostly soldier soundlessly fought against his attackers, but was slain like the rest. Pseudo investigated the snallygaster’s limb and blood-covered roost, recovering a mechanical fist weapon while the others rummaged through the room.

Deeper in the bunker, another entity awoke from a long sleep. Hearing battle off in the distance he rose and shuffled outside of his ruined room and down a hallway. Undeterred as the hallway seemed to change around him into a technologically advanced version of itself, he reached with a decaying arm to his right and grabbed a hi-tech grenade. The hallway changed once more into a hand-dug passage lit by string lights, and the traveler grabbed a flamethrower from its resting place on a nearby table. These dimensional hiccups seemed to settle down, and again the bunker was dimly lit and in decay. The traveler slid on his night vision goggles and continued upward.

Paradox and Tai found themselves in the company of this visitor, who groaned as his night vision goggles hit the light and lifted them to reveal a decaying face with half of a cranium. Briefly alarmed but intrigued, Fim tried to communicate telepathically with their guest, who introduced himself as Roberto.

The party remarked on his appearance and demeanor as Fim stumbled trying to form a rapport with Roberto, who was preoccupied with eating the bodies of the defeated ghost soldiers. Tai decided to initiate the zombie as a Node host with his new acquaintance by crawling above him on the ceiling to avoid a hostile reaction, and bleeding directly into his brain pan. Roberto paused as he felt the collective influence of The Helix Hegemony and then returned to the dullness associated with having half of an intact brain.

The others noticed that Paradox had disappeared, and made to pursue him downstairs into the dark hallway below. Paradox found and downloaded onto his laptop suspicious schematics regarding experimental nanotechnology, deleting the files from the computer console after. Fim found and examined the chamber in which he was trapped in cryogenic stasis, pocketing the personal effects he didn’t know he had – a typical environmental mask, a laser pistol, and to his surprise, a transmitter. He made no mention to the others of his origin in this place, and continued to float about inspecting with the others.

Tai found a security terminal, grabbing some knickknacks – a hula girl and plastic purse he would give to Pseudo and several computer parts he’d pass on to Paradox. Pseudo found its way into the chamber from which “the big birdie” came. Rifling through the bodies, it found a pair of eggs nestled in a pile of intestines. Holding them up to a flickering light on the ceiling, Pseudo discovered that one of them had been fertilized. It formed a sling with its radiation cloak in which to hold the egg and wheeled back to the others, who had gathered around a semi-powered lab off to the side.

Reading up on a second console at the foot of an operating table, Fim was struck with the realization that he could perform several of the experimental procedures related to the nanomachine research. Of particular interest was a fix for adrenaline limiters, which would allow a user to take advantage of a surge of energy. Several tiers of mutation alteration piqued the group’s interest as they read, and Fim telepathically noted these interests, not letting on that he was going to humor them.

This was going to take coordination. Pseudo’s pliable personality was conned into volunteering as a test subject. Fim manipulated the many tools at his disposal using his gravity control while Paradox conferred with him over his shoulder about the procedure, taking mental notes. Tai read off the schematics from the console, picking up a few science pointers along the way. Roberto manned the mechanism for the ceiling hatch, enabling the experiments’ requirement for sun exposure.

Pseudo’s dinosaur-like screech indicated its disapproval to prolonged surgery. The radiation rain, forecast earlier by Dragon, hampered the operation as well, but a surprisingly intelligent maneuver by Roberto kept too much rain from getting inside the chamber.

With each success the room got a little dimmer and the tools worked less efficiently, but as the last experiment was completed a surge of energy tingled through the very atoms of the group. Fim took little time to reflect upon these new developments, musing over and eventually discounting the possibility of restoring the room’s power grid.

The party assembled at the functional, locked door at the end of the hallway, and split up to attempt to find a key card. Roberto helpfully attempted to pick the mechanism with his silverware, instead electrocuting himself in the process.

Tai again visited the security station and rummaged through the area, eventually finding the corresponding key card hidden under a keyboard at the terminal. As the party regrouped to unlock the door, Paradox felt another twinge in his head as his doppelganger appeared and ran through the threshold. He tried to dive past a gap on the left hand wall towards a console in the corner of the antechamber, but as he did so a laser barrage perforated his torso.

The group charged through the doorway to their next challenge…

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Storm's Coming

The morning after their cake mix and pinot noir meal, Fim and Pseudo found their digestive tracts dealing poorly with non-dome rations. After adjusting the chemical admixtures in his environmental bubble, Fim was able to negate the repercussions of this biological instability. Thanks to a regular Node mutation that made him exude gas, the alien was able to adjust this adaptation and cure Pseudo’s discomfort.

Continuing their journey to the western bunker, the party noticed a plume of smoke on the horizon behind them. As it neared, several of them remembered hearing about the [Smokers], mercantile nomads that were recognizable from the titular smoke stacks that announce their presence.

They stopped as a metallic shed on reverse joint robotic legs strode into view and paused before them. A hatch opened up on the front of the bunker and the feel of heat and smell of burning coal radiated from the glowing interior, and a figure exited the craft. The red-skinned and red-clad man introduced himself as Dragon and offered to trade with the party. After pulling a handle several display tables folded out from the shed, holding some rudimentary items and hi-tech equipment.

After haggling for a bit and doing some one-for one trades with their existing tech, the party received some ordnance in addition to a music box for pseudo and a fuel rod for Fim. Dragon closed up shop and warned the party to watch out for the storm coming up behind them as he departed.

The team paused to examine their new equipment as Tai attached a string of holiday lights to Pseudo’s sentry drone, draining its power slightly but earning the admiration of the grimly pleasant creature.

Continuing westward, Pseudo’s drone/radio picked up a signal:

“This is Commander Thalnos of the Kenlii bunker, broadcasting this message to all evacuees. This bunker is a science and research bunker, not suitable for habitation and unable to sustain great numbers. All evacuees able to hear this message are requested to detour to the Xentil bunker to the southeast.”

The party came to a force field perimeter around what they assumed to be the location of the bunker. An automated security system asked for clearance identification. Remembering his recent vocal mutation, Tai was able to mimic the voice of the bunker’s supposed commander and deactivate the force field for 20 minutes.

Fim asked Paradox the rhetoric question of whether this was enough for him. Paradox, of course, wanted to continue. Amidst the wreckage and rubble surrounding the area the party found a pair of smokestacks buried in the sand and pouring out noxious fumes. Glass formed around the edges of the smoke stacks, and the party moved on to the cream-colored structure at the top of a nearby hill.

As they approached, they noticed two grey-blue forms standing about a man’s height just outside of the structure. Thriving moss grew in the trails that led from the bunker and the fungal organisms perked up when they sensed the party, baring spiky protrusions that they flung at the group.

Paradox was struck by another migraine as his double appeared yet again on the hillside. Fim and he climbed the hill and were ambushed by two humanoid, vampire jackrabbits that clawed at their faces and tried to dig into their minds. Fim’s ablative enviroshell protected him from the attacks of the Jackulas and thrown spines. Paradox watched as his double had his soul violently ripped out and body thrown down a steep section of the hill, hitting the ground with a dull thud before disappearing. Pseudo made way to intercept and was hit by a psychic rake that compelled it to go up the hillside into further danger.

Paradox tried out his new faulty laser rifle on a nearby “jackula,” vaporizing it and knocking himself unconscious. Tai restrained the other with a flaming web blast in time for Fim to blast it away with his hand cannon.

A screech heralded the arrival of two more jackulas, fleeing from the sounds of combat inside of the bunker. Pseudo nearly destroyed and was knocked unconscious by the nearest fungal tower that struck it with an acid-covered quill. Tai webbed one of the two new jackulas and Fim ascended the hill, failing to notice a broken patch of earth that crumbled beneath him and trapped him in a radiation-filled crater. He floated his enviroshell out and lined up a shot with his new laser pistol, destroying one attacker and seriously maiming another.

Under heavy fire, Tai ran to Pseudo and revive it while Fim blasted the remaining jackula in the face. Paradox used his temporal singularity gun to transport the final fungal tower into the radiation pit, destroying it but causing a surge of glowing moss to erupt from inside. He ignited himself and burnt it and the other moss trails until nothing remained.

Gunfire and shrieking continued from inside. The team took a moment to appreciate the burnt and shattered landscape left in their wake and to rest before continuing on.

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In on the wind

Elyse

Dome Foo has been at rest in The Fields of Elyse for nearly a decade, on the edge of a massive expanse of grasslands near thick forests and mountains towards the continent’s northwest corner. Dome Foo is part think tank, part university, and part military installation. Its max population is about 2000 residents, currently it is holding 1200 or so. A massive drill underneath of the dome itself draws thermal power beneath the Earth’s surface, and at rest the golden panels that unfold to form the majority of the outside structure draw in solar power.

Within the dome there is a science branch, comprised of a research and development department, dome maintenance department, and very small power core security and maintenance team. The public relations branch is broken up into an intelligence department (scouts and infiltrators), embassy council, educational and world-knowledge department, and a medical facility that caters to dome residents and occasionally makes excursions to visit outside colonies. The dome security department is broken up into enforcers/defenders, search and rescue teams and outside aid. A representative from each department serves on a council that runs the dome, but its primary commander is Principal Fortuna. Residents of the dome are assigned to branches according to their aptitudes for regular service, but may have a hand in several departments if their skills allow it.

The most recent addition to the dome’s inhabitants is a tribe of yeti from the nearby mountains that call themselves The Kabuki. The Kabuki were a tribe of shamanistic nature-worshipers, prone to tattoos and colorful face-paints, reluctant to make any commitments to The Helix Hegemony and had themselves been in a long feud with a race of what they referred to as The Obake. As reclusive as The Kabuki were—they had only been discovered within the past two years, and Dome Foo had been in the area for nearly ten—no dome residents have come into contact with anything close to resembling the yetis’ description of The Obake. Their initiation came reluctantly following a massive battle with The Obake that resulted in the death of the tribe’s leader, Sarjei, and her consort Gammayun. Zakar, Gammayun’s younger brother, made the executive decision to save the tribe’s leaders and initiate the rest.

Sarjei is a respectful and contemplative leader and has been revived as a firebird, the likes of which has started some rumblings within the tribe about a “prophecy.” Gammayun, her consort, is skilled and powerful but quick to anger. They have become staples in the dome as leaders. The rest of The Kabuki, though, are struggling to find a place. Many of them have introduced the idea of scavenging into the dome. There has been division into two schools of thought, one, that scavenged goods are as good as any and necessary for survival, and those that believe that dome tech is superior to all else. For the time being The Kabuki have been relegated to occupations involved with outside travel. They’ve been with the dome for about 6 months at present.

Dome Foo has been abuzz with talk of several new recruits. They have all just died, or nearly done so.

The speedster and the telekinetic, both adept at duplicating themselves, worked together in the intelligence department under Cryphan. Everyone at the dome after some point of regular service is required to make an expedition outside to remind them of the state of the world and the necessity for intervention on behalf of The Helix Hegemony. They were sent to a recently discovered bunker some miles west of Dome Foo to investigate and attempt to recover resources or technology to be analyzed, the speedster for his ability to get out of a pinch and the telekinetic for his technical smarts.

The pair were ambushed traveling through a narrow gulch by a band of brigands. They had an instant to commiserate and split into a bunch of decoys, hoping to distract their attackers so that their true selves could break out and continue to the bunker in the confusion. The speedster managed to escape, but his partner was caught behind and never heard from again.

The speedster made it to the bunker, but without his partner’s mechanical experience, tripped the automated security on the inside. Heavily injured from the turrets and cornered by the security drones, he made it to a laboratory and discovered a preserved alien specimen, and opened its capsule in the hopes that he could attain its DNA and fulfill his prerogative in his dying moments. The alien turned out to be alive, but the breach of its chamber meant it could not survive for long in the environment, and the speedster gave it the choice of dying or joining The Helix Hegemony by accepting his Nodes after his body broke down. Reluctantly, the alien chose life, and shortly after the dome sent out squads to recover the remains of its presumably failed agents, rescued the being and took him back for immediate medical treatment. Fimtrankanaad, as he was called, fully realized that he could make the most of his possession of the Nodes, the dome’s knowledge base, and tech to forward his own ends.

The man known as Paradox had been a feline gravity controller, part of the dome security and search and rescue teams. The being that called itself Pseudo was a mind coercer and fellow gravity controller, a member of both dome security and the public relations embassy. They were present when a pair of thieves infiltrated the dome with what was assumed to be the intention of stealing tech and secrets. The feline managed to pursue the first intruder to the inner workings of the dome and kept speed with him in spite of him disappearing and reappearing through a series of time portals. Finally, he appeared in two places at once, and the feline stabbed the older of the two through the chest. The man gave him this odd look of recognition and then a really knowing smile, just as his double appeared behind and stabbed the feline, disappearing into a portal shortly thereafter. Before dying, the feline was able to absorb some of the particulate matter from the man and the portals into himself, coming back in a form eerily resembling the man himself. The mentalist pursued the other intruder, a wheeled android that fled into the forest near the dome, and managed to slow it down enough to get it into physical combat and easily dismantle it, breaking off a piece to take back to the dome as evidence of the kill. As the sky darkened and night set in, the mentalist got lost in the woods and was pursued by black tendrils and creeping dark. Eventually fatigue won out and the dome resident was slowly strangled to death in the woods by these unknown assailants. The body was recovered and upon revival warped into a twisted conglomeration of the cyborg and nightmarish entities.

It had been less than a week since the recruits have been recovered. Each of them had spent a couple of days in the medical aid facility in the dome receiving physical therapy to get used to their new bodies and taken an aptitude test to determine where their next station in the dome would be. They all acquired some standard issue equipment and gotten some things from the dome armory or have been in contact with The Kabuki and their stash of regularly salvaged goods. Business continued as usual until Principal Fortuna calls them up to her quarters…

Fortuna explained to the recruits that because of their recent acquisition of new DNA and in one case an entirely new entity, she intended to promote them to Intercessors when their standard dome service required them to make an excursion outside. She dismissed them, saying that she would keep in touch.

The alien, Fim, was sent down to the medical labs in order to work out several kinks in his atmospheric bubble, to keep him from any other near-death experiences. The man that now called himself Paradox was sent to the armory to outfit him with equipment. The being known as Pseudo was dismissed from the academy after no conclusion was reached as to where to place it within the dome, and it went to The Kabuki to acquire some trinkets that interested it.

An alarm sounded in the dome as several drop ships flew in from the southeast and deposited a dozen or so room-sized, bronze spheres and large troop carriers in the snow of the mountain some miles away. As the confusion in reaction to the unheard-of flying machines gave way to fear as the spheres unfolded into beetle-like, quadrupedal tanks that marched in the direction of the dome.

Principal Fortuna contacted the new recruits via Node receptors in their bodies and informed them that she would be uprooting the dome to make an escape, as it was unprepared for such an attack from an unknown enemy. The second caveat of this, she explained, was to promote them to Intercessors immediately in the hopes that they could accomplish something in the dome’s absence. This was a tremendous risk on her part, as uprooting meant the loss of all of the progress that had been made in the area exploring and acquiring tech, DNA and new initiates to The Helix Hegemony. Fortuna ended the transmission telling the recruits that she would be sending help to escort them beneath the dome itself, from where they could decide their next course of action.

Fim broke out of the medical labs that had gone on lock down, and been intercepted by his escort, a Kabuki member named Thunder, who escorted him down one of the maintenance shafts below the dome. Paradox, in the middle of trying to speculate the true ringleaders behind the attack, noticed that one of the beetle-tanks breached the edge of the dome and seemed to absorb its coating. He was approached by a charcoal-colored insect that beckoned him into a hidden hatch within the walls. Pseudo was at The Kabuki salvage stash on the first-floor atrium of the dome, the location nearest the danger. Pseudo was a approached by a silver-bodied humanoid that broke into eight furry bodies to evade one of the oncoming tanks as it breached the edge of the dome. It and its escort also made their way down beneath the building via one of the maintenance shafts.

The party felt the thrum of the dome’s power core and massive thermal drill as they descended, and shortly after they hit the bottom, Dome Foo folded up into its travel form and was off. Deep below the surface, amid the low light and the pools of runoff mercury shed from the dome’s position, the party met with their escorts to discuss their next course of action.

The yeti, Thunder, explained that it would be fortuitous if the new Intercessors could make use of the magic revered by his people. He described the several kinds known to him – Light and Shadow, Arcane and Rune magic – and said there could be more to discover in more remote regions. His fellow escorts scoffed at this and presented their own cases.

The insect introduced himself as Char, saying he thought a better use of time an energy would be to acquire tech and goods. There was a bunker he knew of some miles northeast of their current location that he thought the party should investigate to get more “stuff.”

The third escort, a humanoid construct made out of raccoons with prosthetic limbs and shells, introduced itself as Jack (greeted by its other parts, “Hi, Jack!”). Jack stressed the importance of getting greater numbers for protection. It posited that the party could investigate The Obake, which Thunder protested, or that there was a small town to the south that could be visited in search of potential initiates.

A fourth person, a human woman with grape vines for hair, introduced herself as Concordia and asked that the party not mind her companions. She presented herself as a resource to fall on in case anyone had questions regarding their assignment or motive. Fim, being up until recently an outsider, grilled her on the executive decision to move the dome and its lack of defenses, as well as the significance of the dome’s former location. She had no good reason for parking the dome where it was structurally, and Fim, frustrated, floated off toward the only exit. The others followed suit.

The party readied their light sources, Paradox’s flashlight, Pseudo’s lantern and Fim’s eye beams, which shone out from the interior of his foggy bubble through the darkness. Paradox and Pseudo heard scuttling noises ahead in the tunnel and informed Fim, who promptly dismissed these claims and continued around a corner, coming face to face with a cave-dwelling snail crab that screeched in his face and veered toward him. As the others made up their lost ground the party was assaulted on all sides by smaller snail crabs that scuttled out from low holes on either side of the tunnel.

Paradox was struck by a terrible migraine as an uncanny doppelganger appeared and shot at the large blue snail crab, damaging it and warping it behind one of the wall holes. He took a swing at this suspicious arrival just as it disappeared, but this was not the last he would see of it. Fim and Pseudo attempted to defend themselves from the smaller snail crabs, which swarmed them and radiated radioactivity so hot it burnt them from their proximity to the beasts.

The snail crabs nipped helplessly at the group as Fim gained some ground and shot at their assailants with his high-powered plasma hand-blasters. Paradox’s double appeared again several times to dispatch one of the smaller beasts and Pseudo damaged the snail crab lovingly biting at it with some salvaged shuriken.

The large blue snail crab snaked its way in between Pseudo and Paradox, releasing a toxic pheromone gas and exhaling a cold gust of air into Pseudo’s face just before Fim exploded it, covering his allies in its remains. They had a revelatory moment as they felt its DNA attune to them, expanding their genetic pool of options should one of them expire.

The smaller snail crabs melted and devoured Paradox’s body double, retreating back into their holes to the chagrin of the party and darting out and making futile attempts to bite their faces and ankles. When only one remained, Pseudo approached with its hedge clippers and was taken aback as the snail crab attached itself to Pseudo, retreating to some other part of its body when they tried to attack it. Through the combined efforts of Fim and Paradox’s doppelganger, they managed to dispatch the beast and continue on their way toward the surface.

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