The Deepest Dive
|The Deepest Dive|
In which several hackers dive into the depths of the Matrix to discover a previously unknown threat.
After the events of Soft Beats of an Icy Heart, Cecelia Cross has been dedicating her time towards trying to figure out what is keeping the otaku and newly emerged Technomancers in a coma since Crash 2.0. Unable to find anything in the parts of the Matrix that she holds domain over, she is forced to outsource her work to those who she is more comfortable endangering the minds and souls of. To that end, she turns to a group of shadowrunners who have been causing waves on the Matrix. Using the coordinates that Sp4rks got from the comatose technomancer, Cecelia sends runners to a host beneath the ACHE
Master Morty, Spider, Vip3r and Ca1yps0 wake up in a blank white room, each tied to a hospital bed. After a moment of panic from each of the hackers, Spider is able to break out of the restraints and pull out her weapon. Coming into the room enters a human doctor, who calls herself Doctor Mathis. Mathis explains that the four shadowrunners have been in comas for the past eighteen years and had been a part of a mass hallucination event where they believed themselves to be righteous criminals. While Ca1yps0 seems to accept this explanation, the rest of the team seem less than enthused, and use violence and intimidation in an attempt to get themselves out. The runners realize that they were unable to access the Matrix from within the room, and yet Ca1yps0 was able to make contact with her companion sprite.
Attempting to escape from this 'hospital' Master Morty moves down the hallway and towards the elevator. As the door opens he sees a guard with an assault rifle but manages to dodge out of the way of the bullets before Vip3r, Spider and Morty all open fire and kill the guard. Terrified by the sudden outpouring of violence from the runners, Doctor Mathis explains that she's just trying to help them and get them the help they deserve. The runners "politely" decline the doctor's assistance and gather up their possessions. On a hunch, Ca1yps0 threads her FAQ complex form, touching the wall and getting a flood of memories.
Ca1yps0 recalls getting a call from Cecelia Cross, bringing her to the Lucian Cross Memorial Center alongside the other hackers she finds herself with, and being told that they are going to be escorted into the ACHE to find an Ultra-Violet Host that supposedly has two data chips that are said to hold Free Sprites that can bring the two non-technomancers through the Event Horizon and into the Resonance. Having understood that the group is now within an Ultra-Violet host, Ca1yps0 explains the situation to the other runners.
Deciding it best to try and get out of the situation before they lose track of their sense of reality, the runners enter the elevator and allow it to take them to the next level deep.
Bulletin Board Systematic Destruction of the Matrix
As the runners sit in the elevator, it begins to move in erratic ways. The white walls of the elevator begin to ooze black code which Vip3r and Ca1yps0 recognize as a form of Dissonance. It begins to leak and fill the elevator as the doors open and the hackers attempt to rush out of the doors. They are stopped by an access screen, claiming to be the entrance page of of Ex Pacis BBS, recognized by Ca1yps0 as a former member. Ca1 puts in her username and password for the BBS and the runners are able to escape the rapidly dissolving elevator and get into the strange reconstruction.
Doing a search for the datachips that they are seeking, the runners find two places: A pyramid sitting above what appears to be a pyre in a field where several members of Ex Pacis are dancing, partying and indulging in the God chips, the psychotropic simsense chips used by Ex Pacis to brainwash their members; and a dark cave that several data trails flowing into. In an effort to collect the datachips quickly, the runners decide to split up. Ca1yps0 finds the persona of a friend from Ex Pacis, another otaku named Priscilla who the mermaid hacker hadn't seen since Crash 2.0. Using this meeting to try and get some information about the situation they find themselves in and maybe even trying to warn Pris about how Pax is using Pacis as a tool and that they are not actually a tribe.
Meanwhile, Vip3r and Spider are able to change their personas from their meat bodies to the personas that they are more comfortable with. Vip3r goes to the pyre and tries to distract the Ex Pacis members while Spider crawls up the pyramid and attempts to grab the datachip's file. Spider is hit by a data bomb, but ultimately is successful in getting the file. Vip3r, during her distraction of the terrorist otaku, is given the God chip to share in and connects to it, feeling the rush of Deus' influence and the power that she could wield as a technomancer against those who imprisoned her. Feeling drunk on the power of the God chip, the two hackers return to their fellows.
Master Morty decides to go to the cave, and follows the data trails deeper into the strange Matrix phenomenon. He sees strange, ghostly figures drifting through the data trails and reaches out to find more information. The ghosts lead Morty to a confluence of data overlooked by a pair of pitch white eyes. The disfigured decker moves forward and reaches the confluence, getting the datachip that he sought as well as absorbing part of the data into himself. Being wracked with pain, but feeling stronger after the experience, Morty returns to the others, now with the eyes of his persona a bright white hue.
Deep into the Resonance
Concerned by how long the Haven hackers have been taking with their task, Cecelia Cross calls Sp4rks into the Lucian Cross Memorial Center and told to plug into a chair in order to go and find the others. Each of the runners is sent through their own fears, failures, and insecurities as they pass through the Event Horizon, also known as The Great Firewall, the barrier between the Resonance and the public-facing Matrix. Each runner has a moment, the thoughts of what could have been or what they could be, but eventually come to a desolate landscape, dripping with the malicious code of the Dissonance.
Three sprites ".Mp3", ".Avi" and ".Png" greet the runners, and tell them that the Heir of Cross has dealt with them for the runners to travel with the spirits to New Haven, the bulwark against the Dissonance. The runners are led through the strange datascape, filled with crystaline collections of data that cannot be parsed by the human minds of the runners. The Sprites eventually lead the runners to the bottom of a chasm where a larger sprite waits for the runners. This sprite ".dat" explains that there is a threat to the Matrix that comes from within the Dissonance.
.dat explains that there is a floating prison in the Resonance that has been infected with Dissonance where the souls of those lost in the Crash are being kept. Ca1yps0 receives a message from Faulty, a formerly Dissonant fault sprite that she compiled during the events of A Cornered Animal Fights the Hardest. The message explains that Faulty is trapped and being harmed by the Dissonance. Incensed that .dat sent Faulty into the Dissonant well alone, Ca1yps0 attempts to intimidate the sprites into fighting, but the tribe of matrix programs seem unconvinced.
Agreeing to go back to reality and plan for the assault in the future, .dat gives a file for Cecelia to the runners and gives them an exit from the Resonance and the UV Host.
- Master Morty: Data Anomaly, Hold the Door, Curiosity Killed the Cat, Unique Avatar, 6 karma
- Ca1yps0: New Submersion Grade, Better on the Net (Attack), Sensei, 2 karma
- Vip3r: Silence is Golden, New Submersion Grade, 7 Karma
- Spider: Brilliant Heuristics, Reverberant, 6 Karma
- Sp4rks: Fractal Punch, 11 karma
- Cecelia Cross: (https://www.shadowhaven.info/Cecelia_Cross) at Loyalty 2 (5 RVP)
GM: After you just shot a man?
Spider: Ahh, The Power Of Friendship betrays me!
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
"That host... changed me. I have been closer to my goal that ever before; although still denied the ultimate prize, I have experienced the smallest sliver of my potential. I now know where I must go to claim my prize... DEUS, I'm coming for you."
I never really know how to process what I experience in the Realms until much later on, and that continues to hold true for me now. But this is the first time that I haven't gone alone.
It... brought up a lot of unpleasant memories, and I'm still reeling from what I saw on that trip chip. I hate how tempted I was, but from what I've been able to find on the net, Ex Pacis is in shambles now and only exists as a cult around Pax. Don't know how true any of that is, but it makes me wonder what the hell would've happened to me if I took the offer back in that UV host. It keeps me up at night, and it makes me wonder if a life under the corporate radar is really what I want at all when I can bend the Matrix and the people who use it to my will.
...Frag. I'm starting to sound like them.
But all this taught me something. I faced fears and horrors and greatness and things beyond my understanding, and when I came out, I felt... still. Grounded. Like nothing I encountered can hurt me or change me unless I allow it to. And this all served to help others who are like me. And like Ca1yps0. I think, with the connections I have now and the things that I'm learning, that might be something I would like to do more of.
If waking up in a hospital bed and being told that you dreamed the last 18 years of your life is distressing, having your companions start waving guns around and shooting people, then realizing you're inside an Ultraviolet host, is absolutely terrifying. Having that host then recreate the chatroom of my old tribe and seeing my old best friend was just... that's gonna stick with me for a while. I wasn't sure if it was really Pris, like if she became an e-ghost after the Crash or if she was just some figment of my imagination created by the host from memory... I guess it doesn't really matter much, but it was nice to see her again, even under the circumstances.
Diving into the Resonance Realms like that though... frag, I haven't been in years, and visiting New Haven was a less-than-pleasant experience to say the least; I already don't get along very well with sprites, and having those three guide us is probably the only thing that kept them from attacking me. When I found out what they'd gotten my poor boy Faulty to do... I can't believe they'd have him go in there and risk himself like that... he wanted to come here to fight for them, to help them in their war against the Dissonance, and they made him martyr himself instead just to buy them more time. I should have gone inside right there, but they said we needed to prepare. Cowards. I swear I almost attacked that guardian of theirs, I would have too if the others weren't around to worry about. That's three more that know about my past now, and I'm pretty worried about Morty and Vip3r, they seemed especially affected by all that... still, I do feel a certain renewal and sense of purpose now. I'll need to keep working with that Cross woman to help everyone stuck in there.
Ok, that was weird! An adept in the Resonance Realms??? Ok, getting over the shock of that, learning things about Ca1yps0 was... interesting. Knowing she was formerly dissonant... wow. I'm glad she recovered, but I'm not sure her captive will without wanting to. Also, I really need to check for databombs in Ultraviolet nodes. OW.