The police in Yakima have started to search for Kayou’s body in the wilderness of Eastern Washington, and will henceforth be referred to as Brick Soon To Be On A Bones Episodes Sir Not Appearing In This Session.
There is a big door in front of us that just went ‘fachoonk’ into the ceiling. Now what? A few of us have taken lethal damage and could use some healing. After some discussion, the group decides to camp out in the ruins. Alex is thrilled to get some good time cataloging the place and proceeds to explore as much as possible. She gets her daily email from the Lara Croft Society with a Y/N button to tell them she’s alive. Rama is up smoking and getting high on LSD and regaining willpower. Eric practices rotes during the day, but not the vulgar ones. Anise is making sand angels Burning Man style and talking about how she’s one with the great goddess Gaia.
Alex starts doing some small controlled digs, going down a few layers. Fun facts she’s found on her first day of digging and poking: it doesn’t look like this place is old, the time period is short. There’s not a lot of strata, maybe just one human generation. There was nothing, then people, then no activity. In the section where she was digging, she dug up a whole house, she found basic household goods but nothing Atlantean. Not a single little bit, which is strange in it’s own right. Thinking on it for a bit once she gets her face out of the drt, the ruins are not in a place where you would want or be able to do agriculture. The rock is indeed from the area, at least, and the construction techniques do look to be different from those inside the dungeon. The ruins weren’t poofed here from somewhere, in any case.
We are not accosted in the night, thankfully, and those who are injured are largely healed. The party walks back in and the dungeon appears to have reset itself overnight, but we kept the lenses and the dungeon was kind enough to let us hold on to them. As soon as we step into the main lobby, it recognizes us and the screen mural disappears, having recognized us. Oh good. We may have a sentient Atlantean computer, or clockwork neural networks (hey look, both of those are terrifying statements). And so we go into the belly of the beast/friend compuber, flashlights on, guns up, etc.
Craig has decided to hang out with Anise and keep the Humvee company.
There are nice, big, wide stairs downward. Not ominous at all. Maxime takes the lead, and as per usual there are no lights. They continue down for a full level, and once the last of us crosses the large doorway the mural makes a nice ‘fachoonk’ back down. When Eric walks back towards it and the mural doesn’t open. He tries radioing back to the Humvee and no response, and there’s no radio signal of anything anywhere. It’s an EM block, just to mess with Eric. The door does open when we intent at it, happily, because starvation sounds like crap. Craig says he’ll keep updating Smokey while we’re gone when Eric tells him about the EM shield.
We continue down two floors of the totally-not-creepy stairs. Each spiral around (whoops, it’s a spiral/helix staircase) is approximately a floor give or take, and perfectly straight down. Mr. Corner Looker Eric is looking around corners. The walls are brown like the stone in that area, but reasonably reflective. A totally not terrifying sight beholds him at about two floors down. You know how there were hoplites before? Yeah, there are a lot of them. Not quite a terra cotta warrior army, but a lot. They’re mostly along the walls, and there are more varieties of them than we saw before. There are some minotaurs, but deactivated (thankfully, again, because they’re beserkers, do not wake). One of the hoplites is holding a canon-like thing with a backpack, connected with Atlantean Standard Connectors (ASCs). They’re sitting at a low ready. Eric gets the distinct impression that they are something-throwers; can’t tell what, but something. Definitely something.
There are no traps on the floor, thank you Mage sight. But the Atlantean dudes are glowing like all get out. The guns are Forces, no shit Sherlantean. Protip, don’t fuck with the guns. The hoplites seem to ignore us like the others did. There’s an exit on the opposite side of the room, a large Atlantean door. God makes a bunch of yip-yip noises as Eric draws up the dungeon map; the hoplites are all against the wall and we can go straight through, rather than having to squeeze between them and worry about personal space.
Maxime looks for hidden doors via mundane means, locating some imperfections. He intents at the wall, and he feels something creep into his mind as he touches it, poking and probing a bit moreso than the other doors did. Maxime gets a vague feeling that it’s trying to figure out its intentions. After some mental exchange, he gets a sense that there’s something like a machine maintenance room. He asks for another party member to talk to the door, and Alex steps up, lets the door into her head and expresses a desire to understand how the place works and possibly maintain it in the future. The door slides open, slowly. This door is smarter than it’s brethren.
Beyond it lies a similarly sized room to the one we’re in, but not occupied by the army of clockwork. There is some clockwork stuff, large machines for example, on the floor level with areas where you could walk around them and service them. They all appear to be functioning, churning and moving, which is impressive for being ten thousand years old or however old it is, God amends after a moment. There are some tools left behind for maintenance-type stuff.
Eric identifies a power generators in one of the modules. It’s a quantum time crystal, God creates, sending wireless power to everything which is how the staves still have power after 10000 years. Plus data transfer :D. The second machine is the clockwork intelligence, the part that opens and closes the doors, and the third is a dedicated module to run the upstairs testing area. Rama asks if tossing a grenade at it would be bad or good, and Alex Does Not Even Have To Cast A Spell To Know The Answer Is NO, ala Rodney McKay stye.
The PMM is just raw Prime magic, so the ultimate in mana springs. Infamana. The wireless portion of it is more Prime (Prime now anyone?). The control module is Spirit. Rama inquires the age of the construct, but there’s no RTC. It was put there by the Builders, the Atlantean. It mainly just connects to this room, not the Depths. The purpose of this building: there’s the test room up above, the guard room which we’re in. It only knows that it guards this place, and it defends from the bad, Abyssal creatures. It lets through well-intentioned mages. Going deeper into the place could apparently be bad; going there when we don’t know what we’re really doing could be the end of our lives. Whee. It asks about the surface world, and Alex proposes to tell it stories and explain what the depths are about. Eric asks if it can cut a corner of the door and connect the spirit to the internet, which interests it greatly. He drops a cell spot outside the door upstairs, runs an ethernet cable down. Alex Jury Rigs an ethernet connector, and Eric starts to teach it TCP, DNS, and points it at the RFC Center, and also mentions it should read all of Wikipedia. He gets an exceptional success on teaching it TCP, but it also learns about Google. It’s starting to web crawl. We’ve created a conscious AI. Great. Shiny. There is some amusing discussion of what the clockwork AI does, including sending a fiber cable up to the service and having a hoplite deal with connecting it. The spirit is an infovore and we’ve just given it the internet.
Eric explains the current predicament regarding the dragon-issue, hands it a copy of Mage: The Awakening, and tells it we’ll get it info on the depths soon. Eric also inquires as to why it let Jerome in, and it asks if Jerome lied when we tell it that he brought dragons into Seattle. We’ll work on updating its programming.
Maxime plops Jerome In A Jar in front of the control machine touching the door. The spirit says hello and tries to talk to him, and we leave him there. Jerome is very displeased by the mind probe.
Upon exiting the machine room, we go to the second Door O’ Intent and go down ten floors, which is like nuclear-bunker deep at this point. As we’re heading down, the stairs are notably still that perfect carve – magicked not chiseled – but they’re not as perfect with the circular spirals. They’re more hasty, as it were, or more sloppy. The stairs straighten out for a section and come down to a Door O’ Intent – again, sloppier like someone didn’t care to make it shiny. Or that the doors were older, who knows?
It opens into what is very visibly like a large locker/coat room thing. It’s 20ftx40ft (God is mixing the measurement systems). There are tatters of old cloths in various places that used to be clothing, some digging tools and crafting tools. The metal and wooden portions are still in decent shape, although the wood is dehydrated as heck. Maxime pokes around for doors and finds a piece of paper. It’s a fragment of text. The paper is parchment and ripped, missing half of the text, and it’s the only piece in the area.
There is another door (of course) that opens sideways like the others mostly apparently did. This next room is big, quite a bit longer, like eight of the previous room long. This one has fragmentary bits of wood that could have been tables, chairs, ancient boardgames, etc. Gives us some hints that this was a recreation/common area, possibly a dining area. They spent quite a bit of time here. There’s not much else interesting. In one of the corners of the room, there’s another of those pieces of paper.
Via mage sight, as Maxime is grabbing the piece of paper Eric notices that there’s something kind of glowy and Eric flashlights at it Doom-style. There is a pair of beady eyes attached to a shadow of WOD land, not DnD land. Alex tries to talk to it and it’s basically just ominous, telling us to leave or belong to it. It might be Death-affiliated, but it’s strange, it doesn’t feel like normal death. Normal death feels like a natural friend. That sounds a lot Abyssal. Ruh-roh.
It keeps trying to get us to leave, and when we say no it reaches for Maxime, hurting him in a way that’s very dod and different. Eric attempts to make a laser beam of his 1000-lumen flashlight and the shadowthing is very displeased. Maxime and Rama both Force Staff Jaffa Cree at it. It’s severely displeased at what we just hit it with. Alex turns her bullets into phosphorous rounds with a Matter spell and kicks the crap out of it with high-energy light, and it backs its way out of the plane, hissing and chittering. It drops a few pieces of paper with more scrambled information about Atlantis.
There’s a hallway beyond one of the others doors, and it’s quite long with doors along the hallway. The second door leads to a kitchen-type area with oozy things, like the storeroom may have gotten too magical over the years. The pots and pans are in decent condition, mostly bronze-like ala the hoplite armor.
One of the oozes starts crawling over the side of the pot it’s in to go after Eric. Force-walling and staff weaponing at it makes the ooze kind of splatter, and setting it on fire seems like a good idea at this point. We didn’t think an ooze could shriek, but now we know.
Beyond is another panty-type thing, filled with jars of what was probably food at one point. It’s full of stuff. We find an amphora sealed in wax, which contains wine, and Alex will be taking that home to study thank you very much.
Back to the hallway, Eric opens one of the doors, which is made of wood, and there are skeletal remains inside. We’ve basically found the submarine bunks. There’s magic both in and around the dead people. Meanwhile, Maxime is dealing with his Aggravated damage, not really bleeding so much as just missing chunks of his chest and ribcage. Rama, happily, is a serious Life magic mage and heals him, such that it feels like it didn’t happen. Maxime doesn’t know what mushrooms Rama is on, but he wants some.
Alex compels the spirits of the dead people, which happen to be bound to their skeletons so they animate like a creep show. They’re pretty dumb, but starts gently stabbing/bashing and Maxime takes control of them. When they don’t seem capable of speech, he tells them to beat each other to death. They find additional pieces of paper, which begin to complete the journal accounting from the Guild Craftsman of Atlantis. It appears that the Atlanteans were sent here after a cataclysm that may have destroyed all of Atlantis. More details forthcoming.
Down another hallway, there’s a clothing workshop. The paper they find there reveals that there were other caves that contained Atlanteans, and that not all of the people in them survived to be found. They must have fucked up seriously bad.
The room beyond the clothing workshop contains more tattered fabric. Maxime finds a piece of paper next to a bolt of ‘cloth’ and when he reaches down to grab the paper the cloth grabs back. Rama also seems to be getting strangled by some cloth, too. Maxime pulls out his Khukri and slashes it open. What’s got Rama is actually a ridiculously lanky, alien-looking creature that’s also way strong. Tada! It’s a DnD Choker.
Eric turns around and shoots it with the AR-15 around Rama using magic. Very quickly there is one very bloody Choker making gurgly noises behind Rama, but not dead. Alex turns the fragments of the bullets still in it into sodium, which turns into sodium hydroxide, and then kind of explodes a little bit.
The cloth tries to attack Maxime again and pulls him to the floor, where he Decays it a bit, and then Eric sets it all on fyaaaaar. Moar paper time!
Aaaaaaaand quick save.