Jan 312017
 

Session 01

Skyline City University, 1992. In a typical lazy campus morning, one of our heroes stumbles into a puzzling message on a faculty BBS: ‘If you want to know what’s going on, go to The Lab. V’.

‘The Lab’ is the name that refers to the Headquarter of the Architect, a.k.a. Archimedes Moore: a masked supervillain from the 40s, who went from being an ally of Starfarer, the first superhero, to one of his greatest nemesis till final defeat and imprisonment in the 50s.

The ‘V’ signature could possibly stand for the Veteran, former sidekick of Starfarer in the 60s, known as ‘The Rookie’ back then, till she enrolled for fighting in Vietnam. After the war she took a long hiatus from the superhero business, returning as a solo crimefighter under the new alias in the 80s.

The Lab nowadays is nothing more than a tourist’s attraction: a quirky museum of eccentricities from another time.

On arrival, it becomes immediately clear the place had been broken into, leaving the security guard unconscious at the entrance. A bunch of burglars tries to run off from a window at ground level, but get stopped and subdued by the heroes. Apparently, they were just trying to take advantage of the situation and are now realizing to be one man short too: ‘Joey’.

Session 02

Proceeding on the inside, the heroes find out the Architect’s mask has been taken from its shattered glass box. Inspecting the interiors, they find traces of a slimy substance leading to the terrarium on the back. The place replicates a natural environment, with an artificial waterfall flowing to a small lake surrounded by trees and vegetation. The traces lead to a big slime cocoon hanging from a tree. As they try to reach and pull it down, they are assaulted by three creatures that look like hybrids of a cougar and a crocodile, oozing slime from their jaws. After dispatching the threat, the heroes recover a very shaken and confused Joey from the cocoon and decide to bring him along, notwithstanding his reluctance.

They uncover a secret passage behind the waterfall, leading to an underground hangar holding an ‘A-shaped’ stealth aircraft inside: the aptly named ‘Archi-Jet’. It seems the autopilot has been already set to a destination in the middle of the country. They get on board and push the takeoff button, but the hangar opening above is stuck!

Session 03

Through combined feats of strength and cunning, they manage to unlock the mechanism and get into the air. The jet rapidly breaks through the sound barrier and activates an advanced camouflage system mirroring the surrounding environment to blend into it.

On approaching the destination, which seems to be in Kentucky, the engines stop and aerostatic balloons inflate to support the aircraft glide down. The descent goes smoothly till they are boarded by bipedal eagle-like robots that try to hijack the vehicle. A fight on top of the reflective jet ensues, ending with the attackers neutralized.

The jet lands in a clearing on the hills surrounding Quietbreeze, a small village on the shores of its namesake lake. On the way into town they pass by a church with a graveyard, where a lone man stands, Sam Miller, paying homage to his dears. He directs them to an old lady for information, who lives in a boathouse and knows much about the community: Greta Ellis.

The locals in town are not eager to help foreigners, so they go and see the appointed officer, Sheriff Milligan. He turns out to be a man of few words and rough manners, but eventually provides directions to Greta’s place.

The boathouse is picturesque as her owner is kind: a lovely lady well in her seventies, she invites them all in for tea and cookies. She has old pictures from about 50 years ago: some have Starfarer in there, when he came visiting Quietbreeze to take care of some matter (she is not sure what that was about); she stands there among the crowd too, in her twenties, with a radiant smile on her face.

Joey is not coping well with the rolling of the boat and goes out for a break of fresh air. Few moments pass before they hear a shriek from the outside.

Session 04

Tracks of something being pulled in the mud lead into the wood beyond the shore. Rain starts pouring. Making their way through the foliage, they spot a net holding a body on top of a tree. Lighting strikes, revealing for a split second the silhouette of someone lurking in the dark wearing a fisherman waterproof cape. A psychic probe reveals the stranger not to be hostile, but still it starts pummeling them around with uncanny speed and effectiveness, till mysteriously vanishing by popping a flashbang.

They pull down and untangle Joey from the net, who keeps muttering about ‘scary fisherman ninjas’ and then head back to the boathouse, but it is not there anymore, with no traces left.

They walk back into town where an angry mob awaits, demanding answers on the whereabouts of Greta. The situation escalates as they create a diversion with an illusion of the old lady committing suicide in the lake, driving the mob into frenzy. It culminates with the heroes making an escape by hijacking a boat from the shore and rowing their way into the lake’s deeper waters, towards a small island in the midst.

The island seems deserted, but traces of human passage can be found in the vegetation around the rock peak at the centre. Offshore, seagulls flocks over the surface around a spot: Mr Muscle flies there to investigate and dives in, banging into something big that may be a robotic dinosaur and just managing to pull out of the water and fly off.

From the top of the rock peak, a water-filled cavity is visible underneath on the inside. The boathouse is there. A further search around the island reveals a stream coming in from the lake and flowing underground to the inside: it looks like the water level in the cavity had been lowered to let the boathouse in and the raised again.

Checking the boathouse, they find none in. Some pictures show Greta in her thirties with a kid that may have been her son. As they look around, aquatic-humanoid robots swim in and climb on board from both sides.

Session 05

The fight is as messy as they come, with some of the heroes almost drowning halfway through it, but they manage to turn it around for the better and dismantle the assailants. The visors on the robots look like scuba masks employing the same glass type as the Archi-jet cockpit: when worn underwater these reveal a large camouflage dome hiding some kind of research facility underneath at the bottom. The structure features a large glass hemisphere across the main section.

They dive in, reaching a vertical shaft where water stops at the top. It works as an elevator to the, leading to the bottom, inside the dome. From here it is possible to access the facility via a palm pressure plate activated door, which the heroes manage to operate by via some remarkable shape-shifting efforts.

Exploring the complex reveals a wreak of some kind of space vehicle, clearly not built for humans. Lobster-like robots are intent dismantling (or repairing?) it, till they get alerted by the intruders and attack them – unsuccessfully.

The inside of the hemisphere holds a natural environment, much alike the one found the museum. Dismembered puma-gators leftovers lay across the ground. As they look for clues, a massive specimen of those fiends jumps on them. It it is a scary a vicious predator this one, taking all combined efforts to overcome and leaving its bite marks on the trespassers afterwards.

One of the doors from here has a ‘Lab V’ sign on it. On the inside this one appears to be a kid room, with toy scattered around, probably dating back to the 50s. There are sketches laying on the floor, depicting a little girl with red hairs – ‘Veronica’ – and her daddy – either in a wheelchair or standing up wearing a mask. Then Veronica sick in bed and then again her jumping around in a mask.

The next door leads to ‘Lab IV’, which holds several glass boxes with actual masks in, covering the wall: some are recognizable as those belonging to heroes and villains of the past. One is missing, from box 0001. The heroes place one of their own masks in there and a secret door opens up, revealing a descending stairway, leading to Lab VI. At the same time, from the windows they see water beginning to flood the inside of the dome.

On the lower level, underground, surrounded by dim, flickering neon lights, stands the lower half of the glass hemisphere. It is filled with water and has someone floating inside: a black girl with curly hairs and radiantly glowing, piercing purple eyes.

 

Oct 192016
 

They head back to the Gentleman’s venue for meeting up with Lucille and the customer.  She comes alone, in a rush, bleeding and furious: Grain managed to survive and escape the mine and is  now giving siege to the canyon hideout where she held the customer into custody.

The Gunslinger and Lucille head for the prison to get Heath out of there with a perfectly controlled explosive charge that pulls down the cell external wall.

The others ride through the night, straight to the hideout. At dawn, as they proceed along the String creek in between red rocky wall, the Native spots suspicious boulders on both sides at the top. She and the Stranger sneak up there to find two of Grain’s men ready to push those off the cliff. It gets messy and bloody, but in the end it is the henchmen corpses that fall below.

Lucille, Heath and the Gunslinger catch them up by noon at the rope bridge leading to the mesa hideout. On the other side, Grain and his posse are hiding behind rocks, trapping the Customer and his men inside the cave. Grain warns them to back off, claiming to have rigged the place: he is ready to blow it all up unless he gets 50% of the share in this business. Looks like a standoff.

The Native sneaks below the bridge and crawls to the other side, hiding there underneath. The Stranger challenges Grain to a showdown, to settle things for good, once and for all. After a long silence, Grain comes out and steps on the bridge – ear of grain in his mouth. They stare down for unbearably long seconds before Grain finally breaks and reaches for his gun. The Native spots one henchman skulking under the bridge, taking aim at the Stranger: she jumps him from above, taking the shot, but snapping his neck. In that very moment, the Stranger pulls and shoots right before his opponent, hitting straight in the chest. Grain falls on his back in disbelief. The Stranger knees to his side and snatches the dead man’s hat; then the Native  climbs over and snatches the deal man’s heart out instead.

Grain’s men surrender. Lucille runs to the arms of William, the customer, for whom she has developed tender feelings during his ‘captivity’. He says he’ll hold to his promise to make an honest woman of her – making little brother Heath start crying like a baby.

William finally get his mine and pays everyone. It turns out his interest about it is about the black oil down there, which he is adamant to be a great investment for the future – go figure.

The (former) Outlaw is visibly shaking when taking his sister to the altar. At the party afterwards he gets very drunk along with everyone else, bar the Native (who manages to drink most below the table) and the Gunslinger, who just sips milk and thus manages to spot two peculiar men in the crowd, who to him smell very much like Pinkertons on the lookout for something or someone.

 

Oct 122016
 

At dawn they head out to the Canary Graveyard Mine, as all leads point there, confirmed by two of the Outlaw’s men left on guard at the entrance, with their throats sliced.

They make their way inside along the carts rail, with lanterns lit out, descending to the main mining hub: a large cave with several smaller tunnels accessing it and large wood beams on top, sustaining the ceiling.

The Stranger goes in first and calls out for Grain, offering to hand him the contract for a renewed partnership. Grain doesn’t show himself, but talks back with interest about the proposition and sends out Jon Jon himself to collect the papers. As they meet in the middle of the cave, the Strangers spots armed men hiding over the beans; he snuffs out the lights and gets Jon Jon into cover, amid firing and cussing from above.

The Gunslinger fires his gatling in that direction, pulling down the men and the beam alike. The Native throws a torch to light up the area, which sets the fallen beam on fire. The Outlaw throws a dynamite stick inside one of the tunnels, kicking off a chain of explosion, shaking up the whole mine. They rush out, but the Gentleman gets trapped by a beam falling on his leg. The Outlaw and the Stranger stay behind to lift it and help him out, then barely making their way outside as the entrance collapses. They stand there, catching their breath amid the dust fallout and a strange small of something flammable, then realize the Gentlemen is not around.

They get the posse to good use excavating the debris for few hours and eventually they rescue him, dusted, hurt and unconscious, but still breathing. At this time, twelve Black Bisons on horses approach, led by Long Horn and a wizened old  man.

The tribe accuses them of desecrating a sacred place. The argument heats up quickly and escalates into a gunfight, settling few moments later with most of the raiders laying dead on the ground and the old man captured. The Native questions him about who killed her tribe and gets a riddling response about a white man with ‘the ear in his mouth'; he will say no more.

They return to town to inform the sheriff, who puts Jon Jon’s testimony about the murder to the record  and places a bounty on Grain for it. He then cheerfully announces that  the trial of Heath Jeremiah had taken place earlier today and the hanging is due tomorrow at noon.

Oct 102016
 

The church bells ring, with no official reason to do so: they are calling out for everyone in town to gather for the anticipated opening of the rail station, as the bridge has been repaired ahead of time! Which means a train will be arriving in town real soon, unless it’ll get delayed.

They go and get mining implements and dynamite from the hardware store, but head out towards the railway to the east rather than the mine to the west. After a good day riding they cross the canyon and reach the rails, only to discover these had already been wreaked out. As they assess the damage, the sharp noise of a train whistle comes from behind the hills as a bunch of riders dashes out of a nearby wood heading towards it, gun blazing: it is none other than Lucille Jeremiah and her posse.

The Outlaw heads towards his sister, together with the Native. The gunslinger plants his gatling gun and sprays in front of the mob, slowing them down. The Stranger and the Gentlemen launch to gallop, flanking the train.

Lucille hears out her brother and desists from the assault, but the train is still going to derail. From the second wagon several guns are pulled out from the windows and fire in the direction of the Gentleman, who gets hit and has to fall back to the tail. The Stranger however manages to board, climb up on the roof and run to the front from above, reaching the locomotive and taking over control from an old machinist: he pulls the handbrake with all his might and it snaps. He then resorts to disconnect the wagons from the locomotive, jumping off with the old man as well right before it goes crashing out.

The Native and the Gentleman get on the rear wagon and pull the handbrake there, halting the convoy. The second wagon however brings up metal screens behind windows, with the customer barricaded inside with his own bodyguards. They leave all this in the good care of Lucille, confiding it has caused for enough of a delay.

Back into town, they head to Doc’s place to get medical care check upon Jon Jon. Here they find clear signs of breaking in and Doc unconscious on the floor with a bleeding head: he didn’t realize who did it, but it was several hours before. Jon Jon is missing as well.

Sep 302016
 

An eager Native and a reluctant Stranger head towards the whereabouts of the roaring. Here they find a huge grizzly bear in clear pain and someone unconscious on the ground, not too far. The Native figures out the bear is going through labor, which keeps it distracted enough for her to get hold of the body and carry it away: it is revealed to be a black guy, matching the likelihoods of  Jon Jon. He wakes shortly after up with a contusion and almost total amnesia (couldn’t remember the colour of his own skin).

The Gentlemen delivers his bounties to justice, but there Grim turns his story around, claiming innocence and accusing the Stranger of Miller’s homicide instead.

The Outlaw, the Gentleman and the Gunslinger head into Black Bisons lands, looking for Jon Jon who had been seen heading off in that direction. It doesn’t take long for the tribe to find them. The Gentleman manages to strike a deal with chief Longhorn for free passage in exchange of booze. They camp for the night at the meet up point. In the morning they are joined by the Native and Stranger with Jon Jon, but also discover that the Outlaw’s posse horses have gone missing.

They go back to the Bisons, which has apparently have the horses into custody. They agree upon a future trade of animals for guns and also some kind of support from the tribe for delaying a certain train due to come to town in few days.

Back to Stringsville, they leave Jon Jon to the cares of Doc, who reckons he may recover his memory, but can’t say when. In the meantime Grim had to be left out of jail by the sheriff, for lack of evidence, and is proceeding to cover the Stranger with infamy all over the place. They decide to go and seek the Outlaw’s elder sister, Lucille, who may have evidence to incriminate Grim and free up both the Stranger and Jon Jon from suspects and accusations.

According to the Outlaw, his sister is likely planning a train robbery from her cove in the hills caves, two days ride away on the south-west side.

Sep 262016
 

It doesn’t take long for the captive to spill the beans about a meeting between the Stranger’s very ex partner and his elder brother, at the old parish, 1 day ride away south, down into the caldera desert. The Gunsliger stays behind at the farm to ensure ‘good faith’.

On the way across the desert, the Native has a face-to-face with a rattlesnake which concludes with her poisoned and feverish trying to make her way back to the farm.

Two more to go: he Stranger and the Gentleman eventually reach the destination, where they find the partner apparently digging his own grave, kept at gunpoint by the elder of the Jeremihas. Upon quizzing, in light of his current predicament, the partner admits he had screwed up the Gentleman’s job: he was supposed to ‘persuade’ an old banker, Mr J. Miller, about selling the Canary Graveyard mine to Mr W. Ford from Michigan (the customer, soon to arrive in town as the rail bridge gets reparired), but upon signature he got greedy with the deposit and offed the man. He the tried to get rid of his Stranger partner. Unfortunately, later on he figured out that the old man had written the selling deed in favour of Jon Jon instead, his back housekeeper, now gone missing.

The Outlaw is keen about the business opportunity and decides to contribute by offering his help and making his posse available, in exchange for a partnership in the Gentleman’s venture.

On the way back they find the Native lost, dehydrated and hallucinating. They rush as quick as they can back to town (after blowing up the farm, as planned) where the Doc manages to save her skin.

In the meantime the Outlaw and the Gentleman ask around town and find out that Jon Jon had last been seen rushing north, straight into the Black Bisons territory.

The next day the Native and the Stranger head to the sacred ground, in the forest, to gather medicament herbs for her recovery. From there, a feral ursine roar is heard coming from up north.

Sep 142016
 

The Stranger woke up hurting in a ragged bed inside the Gentleman’s establishment, with few hazed memories of what happened and a vivid one: being shot by his own partner. They were coming back from a ‘collection’ job, going through the forest behind the Hanger mountain. The bastard fired in his back, legged it with the goods and left him for dead at the mercy of ‘the Cub’ (a man-eating 500Kg grizzly living around there). He just manage not to bleed out and get in the saddle fro his bronco to dutifully carry him back to town.

The Gentleman was not pleased: his customer would be in town in less than two weeks if the rail repair work at the ‘roller coaster’ bridge were on schedule. He decided to took the matter into his own hands and assembled a posse with the Stranger, The Gunslinger and that little Native girls for going after the bloody Jeremiahs brothers – the former gang of that backstabbing thief.

After a three days ride south, they found them in a rotten farm up the hills. Just few on site, the others nowhere to be seen. They claimed attention with a gunshot: that never fails and actually brought a handful more down the hill on horseback, led by Heath, the younger and most hotheaded of the bros. The Gentlemen drove a hard bargain, which the Gunslinger settled for him by mowing down the counterpart with his Gatling gun, taking great care of sparing Heath, with whom the negotiation would continue.

Jun 152016
 

They follow the creature back to the manor courtyard. Here the augmented reality effect shows her as the old lady from the picture, sitting and knitting under a tree.

When addressed she responds vaguely, almost lost, mostly with rambles, but some fragments seem to make sense: she is the original Dr. Casila Artalin, who was part of the Mimir team itself as their mnemonics expert. She had her lab deliberately ingested by the Crab in order to study it from the inside. She figured out it to be an hardware device created by a new DCE AI of unknown origin: Deadalus. She never came back from an expedition down to the core of the complex and was replaced by a self-activating backup: now a corpse in the church of Revelation. This new incarnation discovered the organic nanoid technology devised by Daedalus to build and process materials: microscopic spider-like insects producing a plasmoid filament that can be shaped into structures of all kinds. In order to interface with the tech, Casila created biosleeves made of the plasmoid itself and download her own forks into them, with deranged results. Eventually she had success by regressing a backup to infancy and allowing it to grow within and alongside the sleeve, in an symbiotic way: she called this experiment Rebecca (Becky). As she grew up, Becky manifested a natural affinity to the Crab, becoming able to travel anywhere inside it and a displaying a natural understanding its morphology naturally.

When asked about Becky, the old lady projects what seems to be the girl own point of view in the augmented environment: it looks like a sand desert, with a bulky humanoid running in from the horizon signaling imminent danger.

They decide to leave and head back to London for questioning the community leaders there. Approaching from the sky, smoke columns rise from the village. On landing they are swiftly escorted by Lenka to the church, where a bruised Father Martin updates them: a task force of Rings of Mars soldiers came here on their trail and forcefully made their way in, aquiring the mnemonic core from Casila’s sleeve; from that they may have been able to figure out the hidden location of Becky: a spot in the Sahara desert in southern Morocco.

They take off immediately to give chase. On the desert border a sandstorm forces them to land and proceed on foot. Eventually they find Becky cornered alongside an bear-like biosleeve by a handful of armed men and a warframe (piloted by the guy who dealt with them on Mars); they claim to have a bomb planted in the London village, due to blow up unless Becky gives herself in to them.

The savant decides to go for broke and meshwalk into the Earth Mesh, for downloading back in London to attempt disarming. The pressure of the fractal mesh takes a huge fragmentation toll with each moment. She travels through it however and then has no choice but to attempt re-sleeving in the Casila sleeve itself, to escape the pressure. The download is traumatic, on top of the realization that the sleeve itself has been rigged with the bomb, implanted where the memory core was. She starts awkwardly to run out, away from the village. Lenka chases her till they reach a clearing and then shout to meshwalk out right before blowing up the sleeve with a well aimed shot.

Back in the desert the team takes the assailants by surprise and manage to get the upper hand, culminating with the vanquishing of the warframe by a monofilament blade slash.

The savant reappears here in SIM form, with no clear recollection about how that happens other than some puzzling, hallucinating memories.

Becky is thanksful and reveals her true self: a plasmoid biosleeve able to control Daedalus nanoids for building and manipulating structure. She asks about her existance not to be revealed.

They agree to that, resolving to disclose only the information regarding Daedalus and the Crab to the 4th Legion and inform just the Praetorian (Francisco) about the safety of ‘endangered species’. House Turin instead used and double crossed them, so they feel no obligation towards their side of the deal.

Jun 132016
 

The savant attempts to hack one of the drones to make it friendly, but as soon as the operation appears to succeed the others shoot it down and proceed to attack the intruders as hostiles.

After an intense shootout that almost gets some of the them killed, the party manages to outgun the opposition and proceed inside the ruined manor, entering from the top floor.

The living quarters, now abandoned, have pictures of the owner: lady Casila Artalin, as well as two female relatives of different ages: her mother and daughter perhaps.

Proceeding down to the basement, the structure turns into a modern, state of the art technology lab, featuring a biosleeve-growth pool too. They download as much info and data as they can from here, for scanning and analyzing later.

Something else also appars to lurk in the corridors there, leaving behind a crumbled old photo of the young girl with Father Martin. The noises lead to a secret passage that winds up outside the manor, to a cave that looks like a junkyard of spare parts. From a pile of those a large figure suddenly emerges: a sort of makeshift cybersleeve. It tries to drag one into its hole, but hesitate when addressed as ‘Casila’. When shown the photo of the young girl and priest it seems to placate, but then becomes enraged at the sight of one with the old lady, running away from it, back towards the manor.

May 262016
 

They make their own way back to Vantage Station. Here they collect a two weeks permission to enter and stay on Earth. They also receive an invitation for drinks from a high up Cipriani executive: Francisco Da Silva.

The meeting with is apparently informal, but clearly the executive is willing to impress his agenda about ‘saving and preserving endangered species’, whatever that may mean. He also provides references for visiting a community living in London, in the Southwark area. There are hints this man may be the Praetorian who led the Earth expedition three years earlier.

The next day, as they fly into Earth’s stratosphere, they realize the Mesh here is completely different from the normal paradigm: it appears to be analogic actually. Entering it would likely result in fragmentation so they switch on the portable short range Mesh generator.

They visit the London community first, where they are taken to the head of security (a mechanic named Lenka who looks like a war veteran) and she escorts them to Father Martin, priest of the Church of Revealtion: a small parish recently rebuilt over the ruins of Southwark cathedral. He expains that this community has actually been surviving inside the Crab all along the Technophage quarantine, as that was the only safe place on Earth from the plague. He doesn’t know how and why the change happened, but the late Doctor Casila Artalin may have: her corpse is buried in this church, but her research notes are still inside her lab deep into the Crab.

The following day they travel to the Crab, land over it and then climb down from the large crevasse on top, descending through the narrow pathways inside the massive structure. Eventually they reach what seems to be a fortified manor hanging over a cliff. As they approch it, the environment changes to that of a fully resotred castle in the outdoor, in what appears to be a powerful augmented reality effect upon stepping into a virtuality bubble. Some knights clad in full metal armor come out to block their way, but for those without a Mindset they are revealed as armed combat drones instead.