Sunday, August 23, 2020

WoAF - Game Session 10

The heroic band sat in the Armored Ground Vehicle (AGV) overlooking the township of Page, Arizona at the intersection of routes 98 and 89.  They had little interest in the town itself, and only mild curiosity about the single light that shone from some window on the far side of the town.  They were far more interested in the condition of Glen Canyon Dam Bridge, but from where they were on the southern edge of town, they couldn't see it.  It was 3 am, and everyone was tired after a long and rough ride.  A dry hot wind was blowing hard off the desert. The sky was speckled with coldly glinting stars, and only a few slivers of coruscating radiation bands were visible towards the western horizon.  It was unusual to see such a clear night, and Guns was enjoying the view.

A debate began as to which way they should go from there. Guns recommended that they leave the town alone, avoid whatever the light was, and take an off road route to the bridge, which they hoped would prove sturdy enough to allow them to cross over the Colorado River gorge safely. 

From his position in The Perch, the diamond-glass domed turret containing the 50 caliber machine gun, Gun's spotted a storm rising in the south east. He gave a casual mention, and they decided to make headway before it swept over the area.  At first it just a appeared to Guns as a dark cloud against the stars that flashed a single thin bolt of redish lightning from on high.  But as he watched it began swirling darkly and growing in size and began to spread rapidly out over the desert.  He couldn't see it entirely because it was dark, with only a sliver of moon in the west, but the cloud began flashing often enough for him to get a sense of its movement.  The clouds were roiling in on themselves with surprising speed, and beneath them a dark circular wall cloud emerged.  In fact, it soon began casting lightning with such intensity that Guns became alarmed.  After a minute or so the flashes were blazing out at more than one per second.  Most of the lightning was inside the cloud, but quite a few bolts were landing on outcroppings of rock in the desert, blasting some to pieces, and catching tall cactus on fire.

"Hey Cap'n," called down Guns, "you know how I can make lightning happen by lookin in places?  Well, it's happening again.  There's a storm coming our way, and it looks like it's gonna be a bad one.  It's coming in from the south east and I reckon it will hit us in about in ten minutes", he said. 

They started looking for a place to hold up and considered the singular light in the distance, but knowing nothing about the town, and considering the amount of time it would take the storm to reach them, they decided to find a terrain feature they could hide in. Linda scanned the map for a safe place to hunker down and found a spot in a small ravine to the north that would serve to shelter the vehicle. 

Guns watched the storm writhing through sky like a great serpent, roiling wildly, blazing with purplish blue lightning. He even recorded the storm on his Visi-Screen, and closed his eyes for 15 seconds, and then reviewed the video.  He wanted to determine whether or not his looking at the storm happen to be causing the lightning, something he thought might be true.  But no, when he reviewed the recording it looked just as bad, eyes open or closed.  Not good, he concluded.

While they watched the incredible lightning display through the AGV windows, Linda brought the storm up on the Visi-Screen.  It looked by radar relatively small, but as they watched they could see it growing rapidly.  Even by the green screen view, the storm looked like it was actually a living creature, writhing and transforming with ever growing tentacles flowing out in several directions.

"Lexi," asked Pita, "based on the telemetry data, can you determine how long this storm will last before it abates?"  LexiB performed the necessary calculations and after a few moments he started to answer, but then went dark.  The blue lights in his eyes lights flickered and shut off.  He was inert. The same thing had happened in the storm they encountered on the far side of Flagstaff. 

It was at this moment that Captain Samwise remembered a dream he had while he slept on their way up from Bitter Springs to Page that he'd completely forgotten until just then.  It was a vision of a Kachina, the same one he'd seen outside of Mech Base 12, standing gigantically on a hill with a lightning storm behind him. Now he sensed the strange being had tried to warn him of the storm. He stared at it through the window of the AGV.  This wasn't a normal storm at all, he thought.

They drove about a thousand yards due north and parked next to the canyon wall. The AGV vibrated with a loud grinding sound as the vehicle drilled its heavy tungsten steel pylons into the ground to secure it.  Once done, Captain Samwise flipped the switch and they went into Low-Power mode.  Now they waited. The storm came roaring in.  A vast bolt of lightning struck within a hundred feet of their position, and all their lights and computer screens flickered.  LexiB remained inert.

Linda switched her view to the town and studied it in more detail on her Visi-Screen. She pinpointed the source of the light in the town as being the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, and mentioned it to the Captain. He took note of this fact, but took no action.  

"I never understood why back in the day they named Churches after ladders", commented Guns, trying to add a little levity, but the crew was a bit too nervous to respond in kind. The Church, at any rate, seemed too far to make a run for it under the circumstances. Looking at the radar image, Samwise noticed the storm was unaffected by the presence of the Church.  In fact, Samwise noted that the storm seemed to be flashing lightning around the Church more than anywhere else.  A number of buildings near it were hit by lightning and caught fire.  The dry hot wind fanned the fires and soon the buildings were engulfed in fiercely burning flames.

The wind kicked up a sand storm from under the cloud.  It was coming on as a wall of broiling brown, lit by hundreds of flashes of lightning.  Linda reported that it would hit the town in approximately 7 minutes.

All of a sudden there was a loud bang towards the rear of the AGV.  Fred, who was laying on his couch looking at the ceiling thinking, and was closest to the "bang", was jolted upright.  Everyone turned to look. He sat up and looked down across the aisle between him and the opposite couch. The sound had come from the steel door on the cabinet vault in which they had secured the iron chain, the talon'd hand, and the data crystal in its Hermetic-Box. That was the steel door that they had welded shut.  Below the door on the carpet he noticed something out of place. There was a piece of burned paper, somewhat crumpled, and stained laying on the floor.  He hadn't seen it there before.  He mentioned it vaguely to the Captain, but didn't feel very much like going down and seeing what it was. Guns, who had bobbed his head down to take a look, clambered from the turret, picked the piece of paper up, took a brief look at the words typed on it, and walked over to the Captain to hand it to him.  Without further ado, he climbed back up into the Perch to keep an eye on the storm.

Samwise, deeply puzzled as to where this slip of paper came from, read it out loud...

The Second Coming 
By W.B. Yeats 

Turning and turning in the widening gyre 
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity. 

Surely some revelation is at hand; 
Surely the Second Coming is at hand. 
The Second Coming! 
Hardly are those words out 
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi 
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert 
A shape with lion body and the head of a man, 
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, 
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it 
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. 
The darkness drops again; but now I know 
That twenty centuries of stony sleep 
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, 
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

As he finished the last line a tremendous clap of thunder engulfed them, loud enough to cause the AGV to vibrate, and then there was silence.  Even the winds seemed to die for a few moments.

Out in the desert Guns thought he caught sight of something out of the corner of his eye.  It only lasted a moment.  Perhaps it was a shadow against a canyon wall, illuminated by several flashes of lightning.  It seemed to him to resemble the outlines of the black winged lion-like thing they'd seen on the top of the volcano two days earlier.  He rubbed his eyes. He was sure he'd seen something out there.  "Captain, there's something out there in the desert, sir. And I think it looked like that thing we saw on top of the volcano back yonder", he reported.  Samwise ordered Linda to see if she could locate it, but her best effort with the Visi-Screen only revealed something too fleeting to pin down.  An almost-shape, perhaps just an oddly transfixed shadow. She couldn't get a better read on it than that. Pita was watching out the window and he thought he saw it, too. But nothing showed up on their screens. And yet, still, the hair on the back of everyone's necks was standing up on end.

At this point the sand storm came barreling down on the AGV with a mighty and sustained roar. Despite the slim chance that a large enough lightning bolt could potentially cause a feedback loop with the AGV's outer power system, Captain Samwise decided to put up the Plasma Shell as additional protection. A shimmering silvery sphere surrounded the vehicle at a distance of about 20 feet on all sides. As the sand storm swept over them. millions of high speed grains of silicon burst into flaming iridescence as they hit the plasma, causing it to glow with sparkling bright orange flashes along the south east side.

No one said anything.

Suddenly there was another bang from the rear of the AGV, and this time the steel door was slightly yet visibly dented from the inside. The Captain stood up.  He walked down the aisle in order to inspect the cabinet for himself.  Indeed there was a dent, and a hairline fracture on the weld. As he looked another loud "bang!" caused him to step back. And now there were two dents.

He quickly went to work and unhinged a steel door from another cabinet, got his arc-torch, and began welding the second door over the first. There was another loud bang from inside which caused him to pull away, and now there where three dents in the door, and the the weld had a distinct crack in it.

"Captain, why not create some sort of electrical impulse thing that might take this thing out?", asked Guns. "You know ... can't you make one of those, watchya call em ... EMP things?"

"Well", replied Samwise, "that might cause..."

"Yes sir,", interjected Guns,"that's definitely for sure.  But then again, look at what that thing is doing in there, and the storm out there.  Hell, even if the AGV loses power and everything, we can just carry on like everyone else out here in the wilds... eat'in folks and walking down the roads barefoot, and you know... stuff like that.  We can make it, sir." 

Meanwhile, sitting in the Perch with his hands on the machine gun controls, Guns watched as a large dark shadow moved slowly across the surface the brightly sparking plasma. And then there was a redish glow which grew and transformed into a massive lion-like head fiercely protruded into the Plasma Shell from the outside, glowing crimson, eyes blazing with scarlet sparks, its enormous jaws gaping wide into inky blackness.  After a moment it receded, snarling in silent iridescent rage.  Guns blinked several times.

"Um, Captain," said Guns as calmly as he could, "I think we got a problem out there".

"What did you see?" asked the good Captain, trying to keep his voice steady.  

"Oh nothing, nothing.  Never you mind, sir.  Wasn't anything after all.  Why don't you just keep carrying on with that welding you're doing down there", replied Guns, realizing that trying to explain what he'd just seen at that moment would probably be counter productive. Everyone was already busy enough dealing with the menace inside the AGV.

"I think we might want to uproot and move on, actually, sir," put in Pita.  

"Why? Did you see something out there?" inquired Samwise as he put down his face plate and went back to welding.

"Well, I did see something that I didn't exactly like, sir.  And it's just that we're kind of like sitting ducks out here.  We might want to make a move before ... "

It seemed as though time stood still and hung there for a few moments, or was it minutes, as the sound of Pita's voice echoed through the cabin.  

The door of the cabinet banged with a loud crack.  The original weld was broken. But the Captain was undeterred and resumed his work just the same. He decided to stay put and handle things there. He deemed it safer to stay grounded.

Guns began shooting the machine gun through the Plasma Shell.  Rattatatatatata!  Rattatatatatata! Rattatatatatata!

"What are you shooting at?!" demanded the Captain.

"I can't hear you over the machine gun fire, sir!" shouted Guns in reply.  He chewed through 3000 rounds.  He was pretty sure he hadn't hit anything.

Meanwhile, Fred was still laying on the couch, contemplating the poem.  He seemed to have all the time in the world, and yet he felt a pang of foreboding dread as he ruminated over its dark and sobering words, and put his hands down his pants. 

Another tremendous bang sent the good Captain sprawling backwards.  This time the steel door was broken and set ajar by about a half inch.  The original weld was completely broken. Fred and Sam stared down through the half inch gap into the blackness of the cabinet-vault... they could see reflections of the blue static electric charges writhing up and down the iron chain, and caught a glimpse of it coiling and uncoiling like a serpent.

The Captain cast around for something heavy to lay over the door.  He thought if he put something of sufficient weight against it he could weld the door shut again.  However, he quickly realized that with the door broken there was no way he could get a flat surface layer upon which he could weld a solid seal.  He took his hammer out, and with a mighty blow, he bashed the door back into place.  The sound reverberated throughout the cabin, echoing off into the distance.  Fred was deeply impressed by this.  Samwise bought them time.  How much was unclear.

Fred leapt down and told the Captain to step aside. His skill with this arc welding was better than the Captain's.  However, after several minutes even he couldn't get the weld to seal properly.  Meanwhile the storm raged against the AGV, making it shudder with the thunderous concussions from the lightning whenever it struck close by.  And every time the AGV shook it seemed as though time stood still for a few moments, or more.  Or was it that time was passing normally, but everything on the outside of the AGV seemed to stand still? 

Guns, who was watching from up in the perch, was convinced of it.  Even the glowing torrents of sand being whipped by the wind into the plasma shell seemed to either slow down incredibly, or even stop completely, and then suddenly snap back to normal speed as soon as the flashes of lightning-glow faded.  It was the strangest thing he'd ever seen.  But he said not a word about it.  Just stared, wide-eyed and awestruck.  And every once in a while he catch a glimpse of a shadow darker than the darkness out there.  And once he saw another shadow towering out there at the edge of the storm, some gigantic form distantly silhouetted against the lightning illumination of the clouds. He shivered, wiped the sweat from his forehead, but kept his finger squarely on the trigger.

"It's shot," said Fred disapprovingly, "and unfortunately there's nothing I can do about it."

Another bash from the inside of the cabinet caused a spray of sparks to blow out from the cabinet door, and inside the iron chain was writhing wildly.  Fred shoved the arc-torch into the opening in the hopes that he could deter the chain long enough for them to come up with another plan. The Captain pulled out his beam pistol and aimed it at the crack.

Meanwhile Pita, as though working on a completely different timeline, had been trying to fix the inert Android.  The panels on the back of LexiB's head were open, and Pita was tinkering as quickly as he could, tapping across the circuitry to diagnose the problem.  However he wasn't having any luck with it at all.  Something very strange had happened to their Android.  Something very strange indeed.

While this all was happening Linda had stood up, looked at the crack in the vault door, seen the electric fiery chain, and quietly walked over to the AGV's airlock.  She stood there with her hand on the exit panel, ready to open the door, flee out into the storm and crawl down into any convenient hole she could find in the ravine.

"Now, now, Linda, don't do that," admonished Captain Samwise. "There's no need to go running out into the lightning storm, now is there?"

"Sir," she replied with a certain level of panic in her voice, "with all due respect, that thing in the cabinet is going to kill us all, if you can't contain it.  And frankly, I think our chances outside are appreciably better than inside."

"Don't worry, Linda. This is all happening in our heads. Nothing is going on. Just go over the Pita and he will back you up. But whatever you do, don't open that door," ordered the good Captain, but Linda evinced no sign of being inclined to obey that order.

"No sir. That chain has broken through a steel vault door.  I don't think you can stop it with a torch, sir.  I don't think you can stop it with a Lewiston Beam Pistol, either, sir."

"Linda, there's still a storm going on out there with lightning arcing everywhere.  It's dangerous outside. Go towards the front and back up Pita."

"I think I'd rather take my chances with the storm, sir," she stated as she stared at the gap into which Fred had shoved the blazing arc-torch.  The edges of the cabinet had begun to glow red, and the fire-resistant couch cushions had already begun to smolder.  Her voice trailed off into a distant echo.

"Pita, restrain Linda," ordered the good Captain. 

"Snap out of it!", Pita demanded, hoping that would work.  It did not.  He had his hands full at the moment.  LexiB was in a delicate state.  He couldn't just leave it.  And she seemed so far away.  As if she were miles from him.  He couldn't think about that.  He focused his attention on LexiB's circuits, though at the moment he really could not have explained why he felt this was so urgent.

Guns shouted down from the turret, "You know, Captain, why don't we all don our Armored Body Suits, just in case Linda is right and we need to vamoose out of here?"  It was agreed that this was a sensible plan.  Everyone agreed.  But the words and the actions seemed very distant from each other.

Fred was screaming, "Get a fire extinguisher! Screw it! Screw it!"  With this Samwise grabbed a fire extinguisher off the wall and began using it against the cushions.  Everything blurred as if in slow motion.

Pita, meanwhile, got lucky and flipped the right switch in LexiB's circuit board that turned him back on.  While his Main Intelligence Unit was still offline, the light in his eyes flickered to life, but he didn't speak.  He did look around, however, and blinked a couple of times.  This was a step in the right direction, thought Pita.

"You know, the chain must be reacting to the presence of the storm," called down Guns.  He was of the opinion that the two events were related.  They thought about how to cut off the link between the two.  Perhaps it was an electromagnetic frequency. 

"Linda," called Samwise, "can you find a way to disrupt the electromagnetic frequencies in the AGV?" 

She was far too panicked to do anything more than stand next to the airlock.  So Guns, resisting all temptation to stay glued to the machinegun trigger, climbed down from the perch, walked to her panel and began fumbling randomly with dials.  She was not impressed.  Fred then spoke up.

"Linda, your sister wouldn't walk out on her mission.  Don't you do this!"  She was seriously affected by this. 

"Outside may be our only chance of survival, you realize," she retorted.

"None of us has given up yet, I don't know why you are," snapped Captain Samwise.  "Get back to your station and help us solve this situation!" he commanded with a determination and resolve that none of them had heard from him before.

And with that Linda grimly returned to her station, pushed Guns aside and began working the dials.  She knew what to do.

Pita, with another lucky flip of a switch, got LexiB's MIU back online. It seemed to him mighty strange that the offline switch had been flipped to begin with. "Lexi, do you know what happened just now?" he asked.

"No, sir, I do not," replied the Android slowly.  

"Somehow your Main Intelligence Unit powerline had been switched off.  Is that something you could do?"  

"It is possible sir, but I would certainly not do that."

"Then the only alternative is that someone else in the AGV did it."

"That would seem like a logical conclusion," replied LexiB.

"Which implies that we have a saboteur onboard," stated Pita omenously.

They decided that under the circumstances they would have to skirt the issue.  

"LexiB," shouted Sam, "secure the cabinet door!"  With his robotic strength, which was far greater than any human, he was able to grip the door shut long enough for Fred to put a temporary weld in place.  It took a few minutes, but they managed to secure the door.  The chain was bashing and thrashing inside with such a force that it was apparent the weld would not hold for long, but it did buy them a bit more time.  

"What's that chain made of?" asked Guns.

"Iron," said Samwise.

"Well, why don't you use that education of yours and build some sort of magnet thing to hold it down", suggested the gunner.

The team discussed this idea back and forth for a minute.  They needed to generate a powerful enough magnetic field to hold the chain, but the problem would be that any field of that strength would likely also affect all of the circuitry in the AGV.  That could be disastrous.  The other problem would be how to wield the magnetic device so that the chain could be managed if it indeed could be restrained by it.  

Nevertheless, despite their reservations Samwise cobbled together a makeshift Faraday Cage out of bands of metal that had been left over from the welding.  The idea was to get the chain inside the cage, but how? He put the cage aside and went to work removing the Brachiation Motor from LexiB, and had Fred retrieve one of the Power Crystals from the AGV's spare Battery Housing.  He and Linda used them to constructed a High Intensity Magnetic Field Generator.  It was crude, but effective.  They attached it to a mount that could be moved by holding onto two handles on its sides.  With this they could, hopefully, immobilize the chain for long enough to get it outside the AGV.  The operation took time, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to say exactly how much.  When Guns looked at the two technicians working on the project, they seemed to elongate as if being stretched from one side of the cabin to the other, as if they were falling into a long and impossible whirlpool.  He closed his eyes, rubbed them with the backs of his hands.  Perhaps the stress was getting to him. 

They were aware of the fact that the Plasma Shell had been significantly draining their power supply, and at some point the unit would fail.  Linda noted that it had visibly dimmed in the past few minutes.  Lightning struck the canyon wall next to the AGV causing it to shake violently for a few moments.

The Captain decided he would be willing to sacrifice the AGV's circuitry on the expectation that it would still be able to function mechanically as a vehicle should the Magnetic Field take out the onboard computers. It was a risk they'd have to take. They downloaded all of their most important data into LexiB, who would step outside to protect his own circuits from the Magnetic Field, and the rest was downloaded to Fred's Portable Spike, which they put inside the makeshift Faraday cage.  They wanted to put the Data Crystal that they obtained from James Maloy into the cage as well, but getting the crystal out of the cabinet vault in order to do so seemed like a bridge too far.  There was a chance, however, that the container the Data Crystal was locked inside of might protect it sufficiently to keep it from being destroyed.  Fred hoped so.  That crystal would be worth an enormous amount of credits if he could get it intact to Alt-X.

Everyone put on their Armored Suits. They opened the AGV door and LexiB walked with stilted gait outside, followed by Linda who held on to his arm as they moved along the side of the vehicle away from the door.  The wind was ferocious, and the sand blasted away at the skin of their suits, polishing them as they walked. The Plasma Shell was faded but still shimmering a pale blue, its external power supply nearly depleted. 

And so they decided they were ready.

Sam flipped the switch on the Magnetic Field Generator.  

Every panel and component in the AGV began to spark, and small fires broke out as the magnetic field fried circuits in every direction.  Fred and Pita used a crowbar to violently unhinge the cabinet door and pried it open with a sudden heave.  Samwise shoved the Magnetic Coil into the cabinet. 

The iron chain wrapped suddenly onto the coil. It was almost immobilized by the powerful field, but not entirely.  It used whatever mysterious power it had to pull its "head" off of the trap, and began to coil itself slowly in the air trying to latch onto something. It found the Captain's leg.  Unfortunately, Samwise was not the strongest man in the world, and despite his best effort the MFG latched onto the cabinet door. He tried but could not pull it lose. They needed to get the device through the door of the AGV so they could get the chain outside.  The coil was designed so that the magnetic field stayed extremely close to the surface of the coil, so as long as they could keep it from getting too close to the walls and doors of the AGV they could manage to get the apparatus outside.

Bright blue electric arcs were flying in bizarre patterns off the chain and being diverted along invisible lines of force down into the magnet.  Seeing the Captain trapped against the hull, Guns, a man of considerable physical strength, leapt into action and grabbed the wildly sparking device, and with a heave detached it from the hull.  From there he used his brawn to maneuver it towards the AGV door.  The chain was not entirely immobilized, however, and was still writhing around, albeit slowly, and managed to wrap itself around Guns' left arm as he pulled and shoved against the magnetic field towards the airlock.  Sam wanted Guns to throw the device outside, but it was apparent that the powerful field would merely cause the device to latch onto the side of the AGV and they'd never be rid of the chain.  

The good Captain tried to help Guns maneuver the device, but his lack of physical strength was such that there was little he could do.  The chain seemed intent on wrapping itself around the hero's neck.  Because of this, Guns was unable to prevent the coil from connecting to the hull just inside the Exit, and so was trapped with the chain slowly making its way around his neck.

Seeing this, Pita, also a man of formidable strength, leapt into action and grabbed onto the chain. And while he did so he executed one of his Mentarian Powers, known as Psychometry, which allows the practioner to see the history of any thing they are touching. With his great strength he pulled the chain off of Guns.  He felt his strength was even greater than usual, and that somehow something was helping him to execute these maneuvers.  Something that was beyond his comprehension.  Something vast, and hidden.  One of the shadows that loomed over the desert that night.  With a yank, Pita detached the coil from the hull.

He now controlled the chain and walked steadily through the AGV doorway and outside into the storm wind.  As he did, he found his mind leaping back in time along the trajectory of the chain's long dark history.  He suddenly knew the thing's name.  In ancient times it was known as "The Chain of Thanatos".  It was far older than his mind could pierce, its origins buried in the sands of time, but he could see as far back as a thousand years.  The chain was being hoisted up in a special box, ornate and dazzling, overlooking a body of water from the walls of an ancient city.  Byzantium! Men were screaming, and there were fires were burning, while flaming arrows whizzed through the air.  The man holding the box was Prince Alexius. Below the wall there were dozens of Venetian warships mounted with Crusader flags. The chain slid out of the box, fell two hundred feet, and vanished and into the dark swirling waters below.  It began moving like a great iron serpent, and through the hulls of each ship it bored an enormous gaping hole, wrapped itself around the masts and shattered them, and slew anyone who came within range with a sudden snap of it's terrible "head".  Amid fire and smoke and blood curdling screams, the Crusader ships were destroyed and sank beneath the waves.  And then the vision faded.

A fantastic amount of lightning was striking the Plasma Shell. Pita lumbered heavily away from the AGV.  He came within five feet of the Plasma Shell before stopping.  The MFG was vibrating with the intensity of the forces it was generating.  The chain writhed as if in agony, red sparks flying off of it in every direction.

At that moment a bright red spot appeared on the surface of the Plasma Shell. It rapidly grew from a foot wide to five feet, then to ten feet, forming the blazing lion's head that appeared like some unholy apparition of evil rage. It seemed to be pushing its way entirely through the weakened shell and one paw began protruding through, bearing down on Pita.  He felt his skin starting to singe and the smell of burning hair filled his nostrils.

"Throw it into the Plasma Shell!" shouted Captain Samwise. 

And with that Pita hurled the Magnetic Field Generator at the lion's head, flipped it the bird, spun around on his heels and ran back towards the AGV doorway.  Time and space seemed to elongate the further he ran.  Seeing Linda next to the airlock holding on to LexiB, a look of shock and horror on her face, he leaped, grabbing her with both arms so that he could shield her with his back.  

From behind there was a sudden flair of brilliant white light from the explosion as the MFG hit the plasma shield. He and Linda were hurled through the door into the AGV, and at that exact moment, every electronic component in the vicinity was utterly fried in a cascade of sparks and fire.  And then everything went black. 

There everyone lay, singed and panting as the storm outside rapidly abated, and the lightning began to suddenly lessen and fade away.  Pita watched the reflections of the last bolts of scarlet lightning playing on the surface of Linda's beautiful blue eyes.

And that's where we left things that night.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

The Teachings of Disaster

Ah! Finally! I have been restored to civilization! I now have electricity again after 5 days. Internet access has also been restored! Now, from all this I want to tell you a few things I learned from my experience. 

1. There is no prep adequate when your Leaders have failed to establish a sound and reliable infrastructure in the case of disasters. We have no such leadership, nor have we for several decades now. No one should feel smug and safe that somehow natural disasters won't impact them harshly, nor that whatever preparations they have spent time and money making will actually be adequate when the infrastructure itself fails. You can please thank the Leadership for that fact. 

2. Fire-tech is really the most essential tech we have. Being able to see in the dark means you can move around in the cave at night. Without it ... holy crap, after the sun goes down, that's it. You're done. Plus ... it cooks food. Scares animals away. Warms the cave. I mean ... seriously. Fire is the actual high tech of our species. 

3. The mind is an amazing thing. When faced with an ice cold shower you can calm your mind, and enter it without flinching or cringing if you have the right state of mind. It took one ultra-cringy ice cold shower for me to get it together and calm my mind down about it. After the third day I could walk into the icy water and not flinch, but just take a normal shower. The hardest part was turning around for icy water on the back. But still, if you have the right state of mind, it becomes much easier to deal with. 

4. I do not need the internet, or advanced tech, nor does it need me. We spend a lot of time doing stuff in the Virtual World, and frankly, about 90% of that is a waste of our time. Not that without it we have anything better to do, really, but I am now aware that most of my time, generally speaking, is simply wasted on endeavors that produce no results. Elthos RPG is a good example. I spent 24 years working on it, and hardly a living soul in this world knows about it, cares about it, wants to use it, or has even ever heard of it. Of course, that is my fault in this sense - My priority has been to work on it as a game to be created, a technological problem to be solved, and a fun time to be had whiling away the days and years ... not as a business to make prosper. If I want to do that going forward I will need to completely change my orientation in regards to the project. I have a product and a service. What I do not have is a business. Note to self: next lifetime be sure to put a team together earlier in the timeline. This kind of thing can not be made to prosper by one person working alone. Also note: I found out that I can live just fine without Elthos. I don't need it existentially. It is simply a project I have worked on in order to bide my time and occupy my mind while the world collapses. I also wanted to leave a game system as my legacy to this world, and a print copy of the Elthos Rules would probably suffice after the apocalypse, so I think I have achieved that goal already. Mythos Machine, on the other hand, wouldn't survive a civilization collapse unless the Microsoft OS survived. And I suspect the rampaging hordes of Angry Techs will ensure that does not happen once the Great Collapse begins. Just a hunch on that one. But the Elthos RPG rules and one six-sided die is compact enough and simple enough to survive the dark age. I hope it does. The lesson I learned being: Do not be too attached the things of this world. They will not last. Pretty sure. 

Ok, those are my valuable life lessons that I learned from my experience. It's been a good experience.