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Author Topic: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]  (Read 4169 times)

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Offline BlytheTopic starter


The EP slogan and ethos:

Your mind is software. Program it.
Your body is a shell. Change it.
Death is a disease. Cure it.
Extinction is approaching. Fight it!

I finally got an interest check up for this. And it only took me just a shade less longer than forever! I am extremely excited to finally be ready to GM something like this! ;D

Check out the World Building thread for more deets on this, but I'll also give a quick blurb here so people can decide if this would interest them at a first glance. Post here if you're interested, and feel free to ask questions. I'm still doing some editing over in World Building, but the thread as-is is pretty close to where I want it.

- Uses the Eclipse Phase tabletop system. At least a little light familiarity might be needed to play. If you are new to EP but want to try anyways: The tabletop rpg Eclipse Phase is available legally for free under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. You can acquire the PDFs here. You need at least the core rulebook to play. I do really recommend the Gatecrashing book and the Transhuman book, though.
- This would be placed over in [EX] because of synths, uplifts, etc., just in case.
- Player Characters are proxies or Sentinels for Firewall, and they are members of a Firewall server called G-OP. They are tasked on Project LOOKINGGLASS and focused on Gatecrashing through the Fissure Gate. What will they be investigating first? Penrose Station!
- Using EP rules. Would rather not use FATE rules. I know that makes this system-heavy, but I'm okay with that.
- Taking up to 6 players, not first-come first-serve.
- Point-buy or creating someone using the Transhuman rules--both are fine. No Neotenics or Lost Generation, please. Do not start with any Psi (Psi might come up later in the game...).
- I highly encourage you having @-rep. Or at least i-rep.
- Specifically, read "Rules and Requirements" and "FAQ" in the World Building thread for a detailed idea of what I want for the game.
- Slow posting speed. I'm slower than molasses in winter, but I'm jonesing for about 1/week posts, roughly. I'm not going to have a cow if people can't make that speed. Plus, slow posting speed makes it easier for me to handle EP's heavier system.
- I have no requirements for post length. I find this sort of requirement tends to bog down system games. Post what you feel is "right."
- New to GMing EP, so bear with me. I've played once, but I've actually been pretty excited about trying my hand as a GM. EP's a favorite tabletop of mine.
- There's a lot to slog through in my world building thread, I know, but ask questions if you have them!
- Character sheets should be PMed to me. Do not post them in-thread. Feel free to discuss concepts/ideas, but sheets themselves should go to my PM box.

Update:

- When thinking of a background, all you need to know is that the individual responsible for bringing your character into G-OP and onto Project LOOKINGGLASS is Arvind Vemulakonda, a Firewall Scanner/Router originally from India before the Fall who is currently in a Takko morph (but who may not have been in a Takko morph when you met!). No one should know him particularly well--nothing more than being acquainted. I have deliberately left Arvind otherwise vague, and you can otherwise have free reign with how your character met Arvind and how Arvind got them to Chat Noir.



Approved players (3/6 slots filled):
- Riveda (Background: Scumborn, Faction: Scum, Morph: Crasher)
- Angiejuusan (Background: Infolife, Faction: Hypercorp, Morph: Synth)
- ChaoticSky (Background: Drifter, Faction: Ultimates, Morph: Fury)
« Last Edit: April 14, 2016, 08:39:29 PM by Blythe »

Offline Angiejuusan

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2016, 12:11:12 PM »
A star screams through the sky before slamming into this thread

DID SOMEONE SAY EP?! I AM TOTALLY IN!

Offline Riveda

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2016, 12:25:36 PM »
I have a character idea I've tried to play about a zillion times but games keep dying on me…I'll PM you because he has some secrets and I don't know how you want to handle secrets among players.

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2016, 12:35:13 PM »
*waves to Angie* Heyla Angie!  ;D

And sure, Riveda, PM me the character, and I'll review it. I'm not sure how I want to handle secrets among players/PCs just yet, though, so maybe reading a sheet that deals with that will give me an idea of how I'd like to.

Offline Angiejuusan

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2016, 12:38:28 PM »
We will have female Synths. I love female Synths. And I really don't like FATE so I'm really happy we get to play with all the rules :3

Offline Riveda

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2016, 12:40:37 PM »
* Your science is wrong! Fix?

JSYK, quantum entanglement communicators are pseudoscience, not possible IRL—see the no-cloning theorem.

I do not expect you to ban them due to their bullshit nature; they're good for RP. I just want to make it clear that psi is not the only form of magic in EP.

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2016, 12:49:58 PM »
no-cloning theorem.
My science-fu is never going to be good enough to explain/handle anything like that in a roleplay in heavy detail.  :P

I just want to make it clear that psi is not the only form of magic in EP.

I'm aware of this--my feelings about Psi in particular stem from the time I was a player in an EP game in RL. I don't necessarily mind that Psi is pretty much "magic with science flavor," I just want it to be more than that, if you get my meaning? Psi's got so much potential for personal horror. ^^

Plus I may or may not have Psi plothooks that make me want players to not start with Psi >_>
« Last Edit: April 08, 2016, 12:53:11 PM by Blythe »

Offline Riveda

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2016, 01:20:55 PM »
I don't necessarily mind that Psi is pretty much "magic with science flavor," I just want it to be more than that, if you get my meaning? Psi's got so much potential for personal horror. ^^
Yiss…

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Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2016, 01:22:44 PM »
Question.  If we're focused on Gatecrashing, then will X-rep be a suitable replacement for @-rep?

Where's Izayoi, I know I need to dig her up...

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2016, 01:34:14 PM »
Question.  If we're focused on Gatecrashing, then will X-rep be a suitable replacement for @-rep?

Where's Izayoi, I know I need to dig her up...

X-rep is also suitable for getting Gate access, but it won't replace @-rep. Oberon/Chat Noir will feature as a setting when active gatecrashing ops aren't happening or when characters are in 'downtime,' so @-rep will still be important. X-rep won't help with most things on Chat Noir other than things pertaining to the Fissure Gate.

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Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2016, 01:37:10 PM »
Right.  X-rep for gate-oriented stuff. @ for normal, everyday things.

Anything special we need to know about making characters?

Offline Angiejuusan

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2016, 01:49:38 PM »
So I'm thinking of using the Synth I built for a game that didn't pick up, she was an AI that was created after a series of unfortunate accidents lead to the death of an AI dev's daughter-and then he disappeared and took all her memories of him with him. She might be interested in working with Firewall in an effort to find her Creator...

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2016, 01:52:31 PM »
Anything special we need to know about making characters?

- No Neotenics or Lost Generation. No starting with Psi.
- You may use the standard starting point buy (as on pg. 130 of the core rulebook) or use Transhuman's random method of generation (and be required to roll on the Gatecrashing and Firewall tables). I recommend the former, of course, for anyone with a strong concept already in mind or someone already familiar with EP.
- You may have either a Firewall Agent package or a Gatecrasher's Pack starting out--your choice, which will have been "loaned" to your character by Firewall. (Items in these are detailed in the Firewall blurb in World Building).
- When thinking of a background, all you need to know is that the individual responsible for bringing your character into G-OP and onto Project LOOKINGGLASS is Arvind Vemulakonda, a Firewall Scanner/Router originally from India before the Fall who is currently in a Takko morph (although he may not have been in a Takko morph when you met!). No one should know him particularly well--nothing more than being acquainted. I have deliberately left Arvind otherwise vague, and you can otherwise have free reign with how your character met Arvind and how Arvind got them to Chat Noir. (I should really put this one in the first post, and I'm going to scuttle off to do that now. >_> )

So I'm thinking of using the Synth I built for a game that didn't pick up, she was an AI that was created after a series of unfortunate accidents lead to the death of an AI dev's daughter-and then he disappeared and took all her memories of him with him. She might be interested in working with Firewall in an effort to find her Creator...

This is an interesting concept--I think the "finding the Creator" plothook is a good one that I could incorporate into the game. :)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2016, 01:54:01 PM by Blythe »

Offline Angiejuusan

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2016, 01:54:33 PM »
I will admit it was a very strained series of events that resulted in the original person this AI is based on not being able to come back, so at this point I may just try to justify it with "Shut up, do you want character drama or not?" Though I do have a very long backstory on the CREATOR if you're interested...

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2016, 01:55:15 PM »
I will admit it was a very strained series of events that resulted in the original person this AI is based on not being able to come back, so at this point I may just try to justify it with "Shut up, do you want character drama or not?" Though I do have a very long backstory on the CREATOR if you're interested...

Drop me a PM with the info, and we'll see if it's workable for this particular game. ^^

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Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #15 on: April 08, 2016, 02:17:57 PM »
Okay.  Question for the room.  Does Bodysculpting like you do stuff like animal-ear, or anthropomorphic?  Or...what's your rule on how that works?

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Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #16 on: April 08, 2016, 04:28:30 PM »
*pounce!!!* 
 
May I play? 

Offline Angiejuusan

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #17 on: April 08, 2016, 05:57:27 PM »
http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheet.html#id=147905

This is the old sheet I have, I may tweak it a little depending on what comes up-especially Reps. The Reps were picked for the campaign that never was, any recommendations for this one?

Offline wander

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #18 on: April 08, 2016, 08:56:56 PM »
Holding post because interest peaked!

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2016, 09:06:49 PM »
Okay.  Question for the room.  Does Bodysculpting like you do stuff like animal-ear, or anthropomorphic?  Or...what's your rule on how that works?

Just minor things like ears, maybe a cute tail, nifty eyes, or little claws? Nah, that's not anthro to me.

I'd only say that's going an anthro route if it affects the nose/mouth, excessive changing of genitals, excessive changing of hands or legs, etc.

http://www.myth-weavers.com/sheet.html#id=147905

This is the old sheet I have, I may tweak it a little depending on what comes up-especially Reps. The Reps were picked for the campaign that never was, any recommendations for this one?

I'll give this a read-over in the next couple of days. :)

@ Muse and wander: happy to see you! Would love to see what sorts of concepts you're thinking of playing!

Offline Angiejuusan

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #20 on: April 09, 2016, 12:53:38 AM »
Blythe, feel free to PM me and ask questions, though be prepared for at least a few "Ummm" and "Ehhh" and "seemed like a good idea?" Cause this was months ago, I barely fuckin' remember what I was doing.

Offline CarnivalOfTheGoat

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #21 on: April 09, 2016, 04:11:55 AM »
I am always, ALWAYS down for an Eclipse Phase run. I just hope it doesn't crash and burn! It's rather rules-heavy for most people around here, and some of the rules are a little difficult to handle in forum-play (like some of the options for using moxie to affect rolls), but I've played a couple of tabletop and online campaigns to the vicious, bioweapon and nano-swarm-laden end.

A Gatecrashing team is a nice way to handle an online game, particularly at a slow posting rate, IMHO. It has the benefit of launching a party who have reasons to work together straight into potential danger, kind of like starting a fantasy game at the entrance to the dungeon.

Fairly nice summation of EP's setting in your world-forum, btw. Kudos.

Quote
- 3rd person past tense writing for this game, please.

Might we also agree to try to reserve the word "would" for things the character wants (i.e., "would like"), the past tense of will ("He said he would be back in an hour.") or something one considered doing in the past tense but did not actually do (i.e., "I would have helped, but I realized I'd just get in the way")?

When I read "NAME would go through the door and would smile at the other characters." My literal English brain interprets it as "...but they didn't actually do so."

It's just a thing I see in a lot of online roleplaying that makes my history-professor-self twitch.

- Standard 1000 CP point-buy or use Transhuman's random character generation. You must have the Transhuman book to do the latter. The latter will sometimes have balance issues with compared to a standard 1000 CP point-buy, but if you're willing to run that risk, go ahead.

As you point out, the Transhuman system is not strictly balanced to the Core Rules CP point buy system. On p.13 of Transhuman it points out that:

Quote
Note that this package system builds characters
that are worth 1,100 CP. This is ~20 CP more than
characters built using the system in the Eclipse
Phase Core Rulebook (when factoring in the free
points and background/faction bonuses). If you
want it to be completely balanced with the core
rulebook, simply remove 20 CP of skills or other
attributes from each character created with this
system. Alternatively, if some people in your
group are using this package system and others
are using the system from the core book, give the
latter players an extra 20 CP for their characters
to make it even.

You may wish to permit characters made with Core rules generation to use 1,020CP if TH chargen is being permitted.

Yes, I know, it's only a 20CP difference...Just enough to buy a couple of aptitude points, a fairly decent spare Morph, or a Plasma Rifle. ;D

The only other suggestion I would make is that the party be purely Sentinels. Proxies are supposed to be far more 'aware' of the grand scheme of Firewall, and they make a good remote 'command level.' They're also dangerous for Firewall to put at risk because they have that additional knowledge. A captured Sentinel whose Ego is chipped into a hellbox can only turn on zer immediate cell (and maybe not even them, in a high security where zee might only know them by Firewall codenames and know nothing of their 'civilian' lives) but a captured Proxy could potentially burn several Cells or even major Firewall operations/caches.

Additionally, I find that in a horror-based game (which you seem deliciously interested in running) the less the player characters know about the big picture, the more shadows exist for them to jump at, and the more out-of-control things begin to feel.

TL;DR - Knowledge is power. Ignorance is terrifying. ;D Proxies know too much.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 04:45:40 AM by CarnivalOfTheGoat »

Offline BlytheTopic starter

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #22 on: April 09, 2016, 10:13:29 AM »
@Angie: I'll think of some questions to send your way. ^^

@Carnival: I won't restrict the use of the word 'would,' mostly as it's not been a problem in games I've been in. If it comes up, I can evaluate it then, but since I won't have a posting length minimum, I like to think 'would' won't pop up so much.

As far as chargen, so far, no one has said they'll be using TH's rules. I'm seeing some faces here from folks that seem to be a bit more familiar with EP. If someone does, I'll read up what they roll, determine if the power is over or under, and determine points from there for those who used standard. (For those wondering, I'm more likely to toss points at a TH chargen that's underpowered than I am to put standard chargen under 1000)

I'm very open to the Sentinels-only idea--no one has proposed making a Proxy yet anyway. I'm more than happy to go the "Sentinel-only" route if that's what players want, but I'd like to hear from others about the idea before committing to this. I like your logic for it. :)
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 10:17:06 AM by Blythe »

Offline Riveda

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #23 on: April 09, 2016, 11:03:49 AM »
I agree with the idea of a Sentinels-only game.

Offline CarnivalOfTheGoat

Re: Eclipse Phase: Through the Looking Glass [System] [Interest Check]
« Reply #24 on: April 09, 2016, 04:47:24 PM »
Quick character summation:

Světlana (Světka) (Somatek-Biopreparat C.Corax 80P0H4-V4r0n4) Botched Uplift, Raven, occasionally behaves somewhat feral and can't read most transhuman kinesics or social cues for a damn. However, since the point of the experiment at the time was to leverage reflexes and intuition for piloting strike/drone-tender vehicles, and because she excelled in terms of twitch-reflexes, combat awareness and intuitive 3d-maneuver-spatial cognizance, she was sent to the back of the line rather than just dissected to figure out why things didn't take.

She was deployed experimentally in a series of brushfire conflicts, then again during the Fall when everything went nuts with the TITANs. She has been killed many, many times and reinstantiated many, many times... Occasionally with continuity, sometimes with vivid awareness of recent death when her stack was recovered and her experience was deemed 'worth keeping to hone her skills', and sometimes with just...Nothing.

She's a good-hearted bird, even a fairly clever bird, but on a certain level she's really, really...A bird. Her emoting is liable to be feral enough to embarrass other neo-avian uplifts. Her ability to track conversation and participate correctly is somewhat poor (she doesn't mean to be rude, she just doesn't grasp little things like...When to talk, or what politeness is, much less what subtlety is). In many ways, her Muse is smarter and more socially savvy than she is. Then again, this is all in comparison to Transhuman values. A COG & SAV of 10 in human terms is entirely adequate and average...for a Flat (she is roughly average smart and average savvy for a "Joe Normal" human being...But posthumans are expected to be smarter than that!). Even so, she's quite well-trained.

If you imagine Kehaar stuffed into a synthetic stealth-attack bird and accompanied by a small 'wing' of drone companions, you'll have some idea of how I intend to roleplay her...

I saw that we're required to present an Eclipse Phase writing sample. I got a little bit carried away. Please excuse the somewhat stylized approach...It's a character history parsed as a sort of 'present-tense stream of consciousness,' but it's a broken stream...The available memories of a Phoenix (Eclipse Phase slang for someone who has died and been reinstantiated so many times that they have become blasé about it).

"Světlana Awakens"
Světlana awakens to day 451 in Laboratoriya 319, which Doctor Mikhailovich, her handler, and the other the scientists always call "the Rookery"...but she and her sisters are not supposed to call it that. This is confusing, but as life goes on Světlana realizes that she is expected to act differently from others, and that she and her sisters are not expected to act like humans. Except when they are. Which is confusing.

Světlana awakens. Life is testing, always testing, and she is supposed to match the patterns which flash on her screen and highlight them, but the AR from her terminal is not right. It is not right and it was not right yesterday and occasionally there are little flickers in the lower right corner of the pattern test which are distracting. But today she noticed that the flicker was repeating itself predictably. She had overheard one of the tekhniki say that repeatable problems were much easier to solve than those which came and go. She was trying to focus on the test but also on the flicker, when the flicker, for just a moment, seemed to match the test pattern. And if she was right it would do it again in 17.4 seconds. She kept her visual cursor over the marker, watching the timing run down. Most of her sisters avoided her now, because her scores were so low. She was constantly being distracted by things. Things like patterns where others did not see them or did not care to notice, or flickers that were often meaningless. She clicked the flicker and the pattern matched and she moved on to the next one, but none of the flickering matched after that. It upset her handler later, but she was not punished. Apparently her sisters were expected to click it, not her. Světlana gets into a fight with one of her sisters at mealtime because she is given the reward food and her sisters are sure it is a mistake. The next day the flicker happens again, and her handler is even more upset this time because Světlana remembers the fight and does not click on it. Her handler is frustrated. Světlana is frustrated. Apparently her handler had been almost convinced that she was a "failure," but this new ability for "pattern recognition" is better than her sisters. Her handler, Doctor Mikhailovich, is made uncomfortable because Světlana is neither "a failure" nor "optimal." Doctor Mikhailovich does not know what she is. Her sisters do not know what she is. Světlana does not know what she is. She pulls several of her feathers loose while preening and Doctor Mikhailovich yells at her. Doctor Mikhailovich says he does not know what to do with her. Her sleep is troubled.

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens and Doctor Mikhailovich is gone, and her new handler is Doctor Yur'yevna. Doctor Yur'yevna shows her slides of non-specialized ravens or of humans and asks how she is feeling and what the ravens and the humans in the pictures are feeling. The pictures are uninteresting, and Světlana does not know what Doctor Yur'yevna wants her to say about them, but Světlana decides that she likes Doctor Yur'yevna, because Doctor Yur'yevna never seems frustrated and never gets upset or angry at her. Doctor Mikhailovich is gone and Doctor Yur'yevna will not discuss it. The pattern-matching test is much harder today, it is the same test that Světlana's sisters have been working on for the past two weeks, but Světlana does not remember the past two weeks. She has slept through them, somehow, until Doctor Yur'yevna decided to wake her. This is a flying test, but in the test Světlana does not truly fly, she only thinks she flies and sees that she is flying, but she knows that when they turn off the machine she will still be in the Laboratoriya. There is more pattern-matching but instead of indicating patterns, she is supposed to simply adjust her flight based on what she notices, whether they are unindexed trees, towers or power lines or enemy radars or surface-to-air-missile-launchers. Světlana's time for the course is slower than her sisters, because she goes slightly off the course to avoid the known detection range of the inferred launchers which she does not see but which she assumes are there based on the ones which she has seen, because she remembers the pattern that type of launcher is usually deployed in. She is the slowest to finish the course, but many with faster times were "detected." She gets the reward food again.

A few hundred sleeps pass.

<Discontinuity>

Světlana is awakened by Tekhnik Pavel, who insists that he is not her handler. She is not in the Laboratoriya but in a large building ("hangar"). Her muse Sashka, who she has secretly named after Doctor Yur'yevna (whose other name she is not supposed to know) talks to the Tekhnik while Světlana tries to flex her wings and preen her feathers, which itch, but finds she cannot move, which is a bit frightening. Sashka reassures her and tells her that she is an aircraft now (Sashka notifies her that she is a "Sukhoi-Douglas SuD 219E"), like some of the other aircraft in the hangar. This is a bit confusing and troublesome, but the technik is there to make sure she feels all right, and Sashka and the technik go down a list of tests which Světlana only participates in by sometimes trying to lift one wing or another, to turn her head, to flap, or to try to pick up things near her feet when the technik requests that she do these things. None of this feels quite right and she cannot quite flap or see her wings. There is also a set of calibrations which remind her of her first AR when she was a nestling, and she has to list the colors and sounds she hears, as well as sensations like itchiness or sometimes small pains. There are two kinds of planes in the hangar, and most of her sisters are in a different kind from the one which is Světlana (Sashka helpfully tags them as "Sukhoi-HAL FG130s"). While Sashka and the technik talk, Světlana notices Sashka has flagged an internal file on the plane type which she occupies and so she reads it in case there will be a test on it later, memorizing range and deployment details of homing anti-radiation missiles (she is carrying twelve) as well as ECM enemy air-defense suppression systems (forty-two).

Later, Světlana's handler finally arrives. He is handler for the whole flock today, and is named Polkovnik Michurin. Michurin gives the rest of the flock instructions based on data which they have but which Světlana does not, then comes over to talk to Světlana and the others in their smaller group of aircraft. Světlana notices that the majority of the flock do not carry homing anti-radiation missiles under their wings, nor enemy air-defense suppression systems. The majority of the flock will be Eskadra 1 grupa 1. All but two of the remainder of the flock will be grupa 2, and just Světlana and Marika will be grupa 3. Světlana is slightly pleased to be paired with Marika. She and Marika understand each other better than the others, and often have similar troubles and tasks. The Polkovnik explains after the other have left that she and Marika will be flying a different route, to draw off the enemy so that her sisters can sneak past. Světlana is told that a final backup of her mind is made before they launch --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens and her handler is tekhnik Stakhanov. She remembers locating and relaying coordinates of enemy air defense stars outside of New Delhi, and cautioning Marika several times about suppressed LIDAR and terahertz radar systems which Marika apparently did not notice. She remembers that she unloaded all of her HARM missiles onto the westmost stars to trick the enemy controllers into thinking that the majority of the incursion would follow the path down the valley they protected. Marika had suggested they check to see how the rest of their sisters were doing, and so Světlana had set their course, dropping so low that they were unable to maintain communications but also they could not be tracked at all by enemy ground systems slower than an eyeball. She remembers seeing that Grupa 1 and 2 were in grave difficulty, and cutting over to their channel even though she was supposed to maintain silence. She had assessed the number of missiles in the air defense stars which remained, then had carefully gone in and out, in and out, drawing fire and dodging the predictable missile-brains until the ground batteries were empty and would require at least a three minute reloading procedure during which her sisters could escape. She remembers a terrible burning sensation in her wings and tail, and far, far too many massive systems failure alerts, so she began trying to solve the most critical ones first, and she remembers the ground rising up to meet her quite suddenly. Polkovnik Michurin has a great deal to say to her personally, but she has difficulty paying attention to it due to remembered pain (phantom pain, Doctor Yur'yevna will inform her later during a reward meal). She thinks the Polkovnik likes her at first but also hates her. He tells her that she did well, but that the mission was a failure. Světlana does not understand how the mission can be a failure if she has done well. Světlana risks telling Doctor Yur'yevna that the Polkovnik is frustrating and she does not understand why he is both happy and unhappy, and Doctor Yur'yevna informs her that she will probably not see the Polkovnik again. Doctor Yur'yevna is right, but Světlana never sees her again, either, which makes her unhappy --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens and Doctor Riihijarvi is her handler. There is a great deal to study, because much has changed, a sentence which he tells her repeatedly without actually telling her exactly what has changed. Doctor Riihijarvi talks strangely, and she is informed that he is speaking English. Světlana did not speak English before she went to sleep, but she understands it now because that information has been "uploaded" while she slept. With Sashka's help she finds Doctor Riihijarvi as easy to talk to as anyone else. The tests are more complicated now, and she is required to fly her own course while also assigning tasks to and sometimes manually overriding a set of drones which will be carried to the target area under her wings, much as the missiles were the day before (Doctor Riihijarvi and her muse Sashka both insist that it was not the day before). She is confused, but she manages the tests, solving them in part using tricks which she remembers seeing her smarter sisters using when the air defense test at New Delhi became difficult. It makes Doctor Riihijarvi uncomfortable when she refers to the event at New Delhi as a test, and he has Sashka download and discuss 'the Battle of Seventh Shimla' with her --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens and is sleeved (this is a new word which Sashka flags for her attention) in a Type 413 Saab-Dassault Aerospatiale Superiority Fighter carrying Standard Loadout Four (parameters and mission-critical information carefully appended and annotated by Sashka). Her handler is Capitaine Duvalier. Sashka has been upgraded and carefully and patiently explains to her that the aircraft can fly and turn in ways much faster than anything else she has ever been in, then runs her through a series of simulations, including, much to Světlana's distaste, a very familiar-feeling test involving the partial loss of wing and tail control surfaces at low altitude. This test has two optional parameters, 'escape/RTB' and 'mission completion.' Světlana only runs the mission completion version, because she remembers how unhappy Polkovnik Michurin had been about the lack of mission completion, and she argues with Sashka for some while that she believes the choice of 'escape/RTB' is a test itself, and one she should not take. In the end, she tries to peck at Sashka, which never works because while she can see Sashka, Sashka is not really there, but this action does make Sashka aware of how irritable she is. The mission is short and involves defending the perimeter of "the Beanstalk" (flagged file, unimportant except as obstacle) by any and all means necessary except entering the no-fly zone (flagged file, urgent) within which friendly forces will interdict her flightpath to avoid possible damage to the Beanstalk. The enemy is unidentified, but is estimated to primarily consist of drones which will make turns well in excess of non-synth-sleeved pilots (flagged file, unimportant except for energy-vector maneuver transformation notes) --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens to dreams of flight around the Beanstalk and of being on fire (edited to minimize pain). She remembers making a poor choice which compromised her airframe utterly by interposing it between a hostile drone and one of the moving objects on the beanstalk (Sashka tags this object "elevator car" and informs her that it contained almost a thousand "civilians." This worries Světlana; she remembers that she is not supposed to go near "civilians."). Her cortical stack was retrieved from the armor of the elevator car in which part of her plane had been embedded by the enemy impact because this action constituted "heroic behavior." Sashka upsets her by dumping an entire new set of parameters of air density and gravitic change on her. It is eleven days since the fight at the Beanstalk (but it feels like she has slept less than an hour) and she has been uploaded and transmitted to a new location (Mars), where there is yet another Beanstalk and a place called Qurain. Three-dimensional maps are downloaded, updated in realtime for local weather conditions of ridiculously low pressure, and Světlana is "backed up" before mission briefing commences --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens and remembers skimming down the slope of an immense mountain (map ID: Olympus Mons). The atmosphere is so painfully thin that she is barely getting any ground-effect lift even though she is flying so low that her LIDAR is having to warn her of rocks having more than 1m standard deviation height and her engines are alerting to dust-density constantly. The fire and pain has been edited out, but her memories of the day halt abruptly with the awareness that she has nowhere left to go. There are enemy drones of unfamiliar design to either side of her and above her. Out of speed, out of energy, and out of height with which to generate speed or energy, she angrily flares all of her feathers and suddenly rolls, lunging into one of the enemy drones, the ground whirling around her as she hammers her opponent into it. Sashka informs her that the previously unknown enemy has now been designated "TITAN" (files appended) --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens and is assigned to doing low-level reconnaissance around an area designated "The White Zone" which her prior mapping experience colocates to what was previously Qurain. Several weeks pass. Flying on Mars is disappointing; the air is so thin that she cannot soar, cannot dance, cannot do much beyond maximize glide-surface area. Besides, the sensors she carries work best with a stabilized platform, so she traverses the Zone multiple times daily, travelling sulkily straight lines which are unbearable to the part of her which remembers how much emphasis was placed on evasive tactics and how quickly predictability leads to mission failure and punishment --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens in the dark and has no body. Sashka explains that she is in a machine, just like the other machines she has been sleeved in, but she cannot feel it. It is not that kind of machine. Not like the aerospacial control or ground attack aircraft. Everything in her interface looks like old cartoons from the Rookery. Flying is pointless and unsatisfying because she cannot feel the wind. She just moves. She is told that she was shot down in the Zone, but the memories are not available. She is assigned to piloting transport drones remotely when they encounter difficulty during dust storms. Her handler is "Mike, just Mike." This job bothers Světlana. She can not truly feel the flow of the air like she could when she was "sleeved." The transports she flies are only those already in trouble, and often they are turned over to her control after losing much altitude. The static caused by the dust-laden wind makes telemetry bad. Transports are lost and her handler is angry. She explains that it is impossible to renegotiate the energy-speed-height curve with gravity once it passes a point of no return and he becomes angrier, so she threatens to peck him, although she is not sure how to do that in the machine --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens and finds she has been "rescued" from "slavery." Her body does not feel quite as it should, but Sashka "makes adjustments" for her. She is in a crow's body, not a raven's body or an aircraft. While it is pleasant to feel the currents of air on every feather and frill, some of the other biological body-processes are no longer so welcome, and she dreams often of being a Type 413 Saab-Dassault Aerospatiale Superiority Fighter carrying Standard Loadout Four, even though Standard Loadout Four increases energy expenditures and causes a seven-percent reduction in her maneuverability envelope. It feels more like it belongs to her than the crow's body does. It is a pleasing dream and memory, because when she was a Type 413 Saab-Dassault Aerospatiale Superiority Fighter carrying Standard Loadout Four she did something "heroic" which is even better than "optimal" or "satisfactory" and is far, far from being a "failure." Světlana does not have a handler, here, or a commander, polkovnik, or boss. There is a parrot named Abernathy, who is a "counselor," but he is mostly concerned about what she wants to do with her life. This is very important to Abernathy for some reason. She wants to fly. Well, he says, so do we all. She asks what her mission is, but missions are a difficult subject here, and Abernathy always comes back to the same question. What does she want to do? What does she want to do? She tires of hearing him ask, and ends up sleeving various repair drones, because this lets her fly, a little, in the strange gravitationless space beyond the Locus station, when she is on her way from one place to another which needs maintenance. It is different and interesting, but she wants to feel the wind on her wings.

Abernathy and Sashka inform her of another place, Mahogany, where birds have room to fly, but although some of her sisters are there they do not respond to her messages and do not want to talk to her. Abernathy does not like to talk to her, either. None of the few other birds she meets in this place like to talk to her and neither do the humans, the monkeys, or even the machines. She is "a poor conversationalist." She is able to get away with one thing that she could not do in the Rookery...She talks to Sashka and lets Sashka talk to people. Sashka explains to her that she has "a problematic reputation." She has many good successes in her past, but she is still considered a failure because of her inability to speak well and understand others well. This is why other birds don't like her. On Mars, she was a "hero," but this is not Mars. She is a "failure." That is her reputation. And reputation means much, here...

Světlana awakens to alarms, alarms, alarms and a call for "anyone, anyone at all who is a combat-experienced pilot." Světlana responds and is sleeved into a "cobbled-together" (Sashka informers her that this is not a model or make but a description) drone tender and Sashka mediates for her in a crash-course on zero-gravity tactics and strategy being taught remotely by a handler named Teilhard Liu. It is not clear if Teilhard Liu is higher in rank than a Polkovnik, although Sashka notes that in the past he was an "Air Marshal." Světlana likes listening to Liu. Liu is straightforward and makes his expectations clear. Světlana can remember few commanders who have made their desires so clear. Světlana asks to be backed up after the tactical course because by now she has learned why her memory works the way it does, why sometimes she forgets things and things happen to her that she does not remember when she awakens, so that others have to tell her or show her what she did. She decides that she wants to remember this --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens with no memory of the First or the Second Battle of Locus, but there are records and recordings from other ships and Locus Space Control which show her how she participated. She is pleased to see that during the battle she remembered what Liu had to say, including remembering that self-sacrifice was only an equipment expenditure to a backed-up ego. After emptying her missile racks, she traded her drone tender for a frigate over a hundred and fifty times her mass by using her drones as an ablative shield to provide cover from the enemy ship's guns while she corkscrewed in and impacted the enemy frigate's engine spine at the highest velocity she could achieve by red-limit burning her available fuel. Recordings show that the impact severed the frigate's magnetic containment vessel, which failed to properly shut down and resulted in "a significant AM detonation." Světlana believes that Teilhard Liu would approve of her trading a forty-ton drone-tender for a six-thousand-ton frigate, but, although she asks Sashka to compose a message to him, he never answers her.

However, she soon afterward does receive an invitation to do work flying for an Extropian company called Medusan Shield. Ego broadcast costs paid, and with guaranteed financial reimbursement as well as the possibility of improving her reputation (Světlana finds that her reputation has noticeably increased after the Second Battle of Locus as "the bird who took out the frigate Walter Morgan"). The work is good, a mixture of what she did in the early days of her life at Somatek-Biopreparat, and what she was doing on Mars. It is mostly recon, with occasional elements of combative strike. She uses every trick she can think of to do her job well. Repeated financial reimbursement for missions eventually leads to the option to buy a better form, but there will be delays until it is ready. Her sisters on Mahogany still do not answer her. Sashka handles her contracts and finances, and Světlana finds time to fly, even when she has to rent craft to do it in. She can "afford" to do that now. It is pleasant to have choices, to decide what to fly and where to fly it.

Wrapping up a security detail to escort a courier to Gatekeeper, Světlana finds herself offered the opportunity to go extra-solar; there are a variety of openings through local Medusan Shield representation to do escort-duty on Gatecrashing expeditions. Světlana has Sashka sign her up for the necessary auxiliary training courses, and within two weeks sees her first alien sky...And
flies it. Gatecrashing suits her. The people who do so are often socially irregular. They deal with her as well as anyone has. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, but their needs are for solid results, and Světlana is an excellent recon flyer and drone-handler. Connections Sashka managed through the Gatecrashing community get her a Search-and-Rescue role on an emergency retrieval team operating out of Portal, and while not all of her rescues are successful (she has been extracted out of her own failed extraction operations more than once...Extraction operations are dangerous by definition), the little AR flash marking her to ExploreNet followers as a dedicated on-call Recovery specialist gets her a lot of social leeway at Chat Noir, Gateway, and aboard the Lost in Neverwhere. People do not seem to mind so much when she has trouble talking or listening. Being "Recovery" is something like being "a hero," and Světlana likes it.

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens in the depths of Europa, and flies ("swims" Sashka insists, but it feels like flying) through thick, dense liquid, armed with supercavitating torpedoes to guard the interests of an archaelogical group. Her patrolling is cut short when something like the TITAN drones she fought before emerges from inside the dig and attacks those she seeks to protect. She is ordered to destroy the dig by one of those within --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens in orbit over Chat Noir, and is informed that her co-workers are "Firewall" and that she is also now "Firewall." This is very secret, and is not to be discussed, but it is also very important. It means support, and it means danger, and it means freedom. It means she is responsible for protecting everyone, all of the time, whether she is paid or not, whether she is sleeved for battle or not, but it also means having to choose sometimes to let some die so that others can be saved. Světlana approves of this. It is what Teilhard Liu taught. Sometimes an objective is worth sacrificing for, and the objective here is the survival of the future of all Transhumanity. She worries sometimes about the scale of the objective. Sashka has projected numerous maps, Solar and Extrasolar. It is a vast area to protect, and every battle she has ever fought looks small beside it, but Světlana will only be responsible for small portions, wherever she may be --

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens on a resleeving slab at Portal, and knows she is missing something, like the gap left by a plucked feather before a new one grows, even though this body has no feathers --

<Discontinuity>

...Awakens on a resleeving slab at Gateway --

<Discontinuity>

...Awakens at Chat Noir --

<Discontinuity>

...Awakens in a virtual meadow where a Firewall Proxy is updating her team of "Sentinels" on a new mission. The virtual meadow has no simulated air currents. Světlana reflexively plays back the last few minutes of recorded discussion at high speed while Sashka annotates and simplifies it for her on the fly, and her aerobatic prediction software creates a model of the breezes the meadow should have based on the approximate radiance and position of the sun, some mountains on the horizon, and the available local contour mapping provided by the virtual reality simulation. Sashka parses the briefing into straightforward and simple instruction sets and rules of engagement, while Světlana plots maximum glide-time paths through the thermal updrafts which the simulation should have, but does not.

<Discontinuity>

...Awakens in her "own" body (or one of the same design) on a perch in the Enemy Mine, having drifted off to sleep as some other Gatecrasher talked and talked and talked about what had really been a simple rescue mission, in Světlana's opinion --

<Discontinuity>

...Awakens on Mahogany, and hears and feels thousands of other birds around her, but also feels the air currents rebounding from distant walls. The birds here have mostly abandoned the names humans gave them. Most of their names are about the sky, especially things the sky of Mahogany does not have. After listening to one too many "Lost-Sunset-Never-Ending" named birds talking about her human name, Světlana declares that she has a thousand new skies beyond the Gates that she can fly in, and misses nothing. Mahogany is no replacement for the open skies of the worlds beyond the Gates. Světlana decides she hates it, and has Sashka arrange her return to Chat Noir.

<Discontinuity>

...Awakens under alien skies, perched on an anchored fixor among the branches of a thing like a tree if trees were made out of crystallized steam. Her new body is slower, but is stealthier and more maneuverable than the Type 413 Saab-Dassault Aerospatiale Superiority Fighter in which she counter-kamikaziied an inbound TITAN war-machine. Světlana has wings that can flap, guidance vanes she can stretch like her feathers of old, eyes and other senses that see incredible things, while nothing can see her unless she wants it to. Around her, her drones slowly dance, updating her with status reports.

<Discontinuity>

...Awakens in a Gatecrasher's bar on the Lost in Neverwhere, where the other Retrievers at her corner booth are comparing how many times they have died, on a bet. Světlana does not know how many times she has died. Sashka does not know, either, but no one at the table believes Sashka's minimum estimate. No one else comes close. The biologicals drink heavily and stare at her and she shifts uncomfortably on her perch.

<Discontinuity>

Světlana awakens.

There are days I should not be allowed near a word processor.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2016, 05:00:16 PM by CarnivalOfTheGoat »