Thousand Dying Suns

The Gulf of Improbability
KindleNomicon Audio+Text entry - Thorne

Warning, metaphysical nonsense incoming:

There is an important conceptual gulf between what things are supposed to be, and what they can become.

Example: A human body is meant to contain one “soul” with one “identity” but ours contains more. We have come to believe that there is a a considerable conceptual gulf between individual and plural existence, and because we became a plurality instinctively, we now encompass that gulf. Because we encompass that gulf, we touch the place in the universe where all other plural beings exist, conceptually. This gulf exists as an often physical presence, we feel it lurking just out of sight, constantly. We have visited in fact. The “mental labyrinth” that we retreated to with our fellows when struggling against the demon on the Venture was a construct that exists in that place, and not one of our individual creation.

This notion can be expounded upon to encompass worlds. A world has a default state of intentionality. It takes peculiar events (magic, vast cataclysms, huge fucking bombs) to nudge it out of this well trodden path, but we have seen examples of this in every world we’ve visited. Yen Enoth, the time fraught tower in broken Earth, the necropolis of the Necromancer where the soil was made of meat. In these places, the gulf of improbability yawns. Where the laws are loose and the walls are thin. We have touched it enough that we have begun to experiment in it’s use: teleportation, wormholes, things like these.

Now we have found a new location that manipulates these colossal forces. This time almost casually. These ruins of “the 3rd Epoch” seem to suggest that these “Aaqa” weaved the fabric of causality at their whim. But perhaps not. These destinations seem special to them. Temples and tombs. Perhaps the gateways were reserved for particularly important locations? The latest portal was of considerably different construction than any we have previously encountered. It had space inside, a sort of hallway, and in it lurked some monstrous agent of the Unlife. Was this construction a defensive precaution? Was it an accident? Some mutation of powerful magics left over time? We really must find out. We should try and find a way to tear it from inside the portal, so that it can be studied and possibly destroyed.

We must also try and determine the nature of the smoke spirits that sought to unmake us. Although not of the unlife, their perception of us “mud creatures” was such that they were compelled to try and tear us apart. While not inherently malicious, the distinction is academic. Although, we imagine a situation in which our sapience is adequately demonstrated to them and the inherently harmful practice of trying to see what’s inside of us discouraged.

Lastly, we begin to see a process through which we might come to more fully master the forces governing causality, at least in regards to location. Time remains the purview of Arden, for the moment. Thinking about distance as a limiting factor was misguided. The multiverse is as much an idea as it is a physical reality. Physical, scientific constraints, such as distance, are important for maintaining the function of such a system, but need not impede upon our ability to traverse it. We must simply know the notion of a thing in order to go there. The magics needed to get causality to agree with this concept will be more complicated than anything we have previously attempted, but the path is revealed. We will begin to unravel these mysteries.

That is enough for now.

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The Thing in the Darkness
Olis recordings; mindlink first, then move out

What the hell was that thing?

It began at the portal. It is a black and shiny, like glass, only black, and encased in the blue jade. It is inside the mountain. To get to it, Thorne portals us all into the cavern. Then Thorne just activates the portal and steps through. It looks like he is stepping through oil. The surface changes and ripples but becalms once he is through. Foolish to let the mage go through first. I immediately follow. It is a strange sensation as it feels like I am trying to move through water, pitch dark water. But then there is pain. I am raked in the chest by something that cuts through the modern armor. I strike out but whatever it is moves aside. I realize that the others will pass through after me, while this thing ambushes us. I must not let it. Again it strikes but my warrior’s instinct allows me to dodge its blows at the last minute. Unfortunately my own counter strike misses. Again the thing attacks and I am savaged. I can feel the life leaking out of me. One of my boots is filling with blood. I must flee. I try to move forward and stagger out of the darkness into a hallway. The wind is howling. I wipe the blood out of my eyes and see that Thorne, Carter, and Arden are here. How? Did they pass by me in the darkness? I focus and the pain retreats. Thorne is by my side, using their healing arts on me. I can barely hear them in this wind. Their clothing is also ripped and they bear the marks of injury. Carter and Arden appear unscathed. How?

There is a maelstrom in the hallway, and out of that arise four smoke demons. Thorne manages to hold one at bay, but the others are quick and deadly. You can almost feel the hatred coming off of them. They are fast and nigh impossible to hit. Through sheer luck, Arden and I land a few blows on the demons but I am not in the best condition to fight these demons. We are also missing our heavy weapons. Arden and I bear the brunt of their attacks. Carter takes a few hits but appears to be holding his own. At least he’s cursing up a storm like the sailor he is. There is a way forward but the demons will pursue us. The only way back is through the portal and the thing in the darkness. If we wait too long to retreat, the thing will kill us. Although Throne has one demon in his thrall, none of the others have fallen. I call for a tactical retreat as Thorne detonates the very air around the demons. Arden staggers through the portal. I hope he does not fall prey to it in the darkness. I try to pull Thorne but they are busy igniting the air. I cannot leave them so I cover their back. I scream over the winds that we must retreat, but a kind of mania has taken over Thorne. I think they are saying, “We can take them. They are ours.” A concussive blast almost throws me to the ground. It has been enough as the smoke demons dissipate. But are they dead? Or will they return? The wind continues to howl in the room but my own rasping breath is louder in my ears. We cannot stay! Finally Thorne relents and moves back toward the portal. When it is my turn, I am prepared for it. I duck and roll as soon as I enter the darkness. I felt the thing’s attack but evade it. I push forward and stagger back into the portal cavern.

This has been a bad day but it was not my day to die. That day is yet to come. I tell Carter that we need our weapons from Venture. Then there will be payback.
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More on the cave of Wonders
Carter's Vlog

Still not much to say. We headed back to Diamond Lake to meet up with Alistair and a bit of R&R. We discovered the new portal lead to the tomb of Icosal during our conversation. I was also able to make him a very happy scholar by sharing my recording of Thorne reading the ritual plaque – khiron was able to bodge together an interface between my PDA and his ‘betamax’ thing. The end result was some sort of archaic reel-to-reel recording on magnetic tape. Which means regardless it won’t last overly long so I’m not worried to much about it getting lost and falling into the wrong hands.

The next day we returned to the Whispering Cavern. Thorne proceeded to teleport away the cave in around the new portal so we could hop in and give it a go. This triggered a series of unfortunate events; everyone else was attacked while portaling by some sort of interdimensional foozle (it couldn’t smell me as I was not bothered during the transit). Worse, there were…. .sentient air beasts on the other side of the portal who wanted to see the fire inside the mud people (us). As you can imagine, fire extraction is not exactly a peaceful process.

Much confusion, chaos and conflict ensued – resulting in us driving off or destroying the beasties. Now on to the next thing….

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Mad Max and The Cave of Wonders
Carter's Vlog

This will be a quick update as I stand in a cavern, amazed at what the current ‘civilization’ has obviously lost.

Bayonetta landed her black helicopter at Fort Lloyd after the bombing of Klono, murdered the crew, and then wandered into a bunker. That’s where things stand with that thanks to Venture’s surveillance.

We decided to drive overland to Fort Lloyd from Yellowtail. Naturally broke down, hacked a fix, then continued on until we met Khabri at a crossroad. He pointed out we were nuts. At his suggestion we diverted to Diamond Lake city as he had seen to blue jade before. In fact, he was the one who found the artifact initially.

• From the second epoch, the Anhoren civilization, who called it scry stone.

He took us to town for a night of debauchery, and then to the Whispering Cave Mine. The mine is from a Third Epoch civilization called the Gnair.

Lots of funky graffiti. Eventually found an odd cave with a stand and the shard remnants of a mirror which was evidently a portal. Still need to figure out how to unify thorns perceptions with ‘mainline’ physics which is apparently how this all worked. No inspiration yet.

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Getting exploded is not fun
Carter's Vlog

Here we are, poking our noses into the random underbelly of the underworld of this Empire of Man.

We’ve been following the shipments of the ‘Blue Jade’ found by Marga Treva, which has lead to a continuous series of increasing escapades.

In short I’ve

  • Done a bit of B&E at a warehouse to find data on the Blue Jade shippers
  • * Sister Magyar is who signed off on the shipment manifest.
  • Got exploded when tailing Thornetta when she was interrogating an working for info.
    • A merc squad lead by an enhanced woman interrupted Thorne. Their goal was to cover the tracks of the blue jade shipment.
  • made it out to Kolono, and from there Dogitch only to find out the mine was destroyed by black helicopters, lead by the enhanced woman.

Which leads us to now – driving across this mega desert in ‘Utes’ (Land Rangers really) headed to Fort Loyd where she was headed next.

I’m not certain what we hope to accomplish but it certainly will be exciting!

Perhaps as part of this we can Rescue the Fair Maiden Archeologist from the Clutches of the Evil Corporations! Excitement! Thrills! Pow! Crash!

We’re staring in our own pulp novel.

Our fundamental problem is we are a good three steps behind whomever is responsible for all of this – and we have no idea what their goals are (other than covering the tracks to the meta-material)

I hope we find Ms. Treva and I hope we understand who and what we are meddling with soon.

I could really go for a spot of tea.

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Psionic Blue Shit and Cyberpunk street brawls
KindleNomicon Audio+Text entry - Thorne

So, fuck… so It’s been a long while since we felt this close to death. A certain arrogance comes from believing oneself is on “the correct path.” It’s a thing we’ve always envied in the religious. It feels very uncomfortable to recognize it in ourselves. It took staring our death in the face, in the form of a terrifying cyborg samurai woman, to realize that just because we feel buoyed by the “will” of the multiverse doesn’t mean we can’t be casually murdered. Free will behind guns and swords is a bitch.

So we’ve found out that the blue glowy stone that Marva “discovered” has exciting properties. After carter handled it, it “phased” through a table. Luckily not through the hull of the venture. We hypothesize that it took on some of his properties? It also serves to enhance Khiron’s psionics. It doesn’t do fuck-all for us, but we suppose that’s fair. Not everything is magic. We slightly understand how Carter feels when we accomplish these amazing things with magic and they don’t even register for him. After all these discoveries it is casually mentioned that they saw a whole sarcophagus(!) of the stuff waiting to be loaded into a train, guarded by scary church knights. This while everyone is hemming and hawing over what to do next, which didn’t include the sarcophagus. Fuck, lets do that then?!

So, we found a burly fellow who worked at the station, Gwolp, and applied the sort of pressure we’re best at. We didn’t need to take things as far as we did with him. There was no reason to share with him the full range of our talents, but once we get going, the tendency is to take things as far as they’ll go, and he was a much better partner than we might have guessed. A very open minded fellow, with stamina and self-control. He was in a daze after, very pliant and open to suggestion, but we feared he might protest a bit too much when we made our inevitable exit. Sadly, we never got the chance to find out.

sharp intake of breath and a pause

Gwolp led us to the office where the shipping manifests were filed and just as we were making a copy, some stealthy villain turned his fucking head into a meat canoe with a very non-Valis future gun. We ran, diving behind the copier and then worm-holing through the wall. We didn’t have time to close it after we’d passed through and a monstous woman followed – about 7 feet tall and gaunt, with scary tech hanging off her and a cyberpunk trench coat. So we fought back, lashing out with the considerable force of our mental strength. She was unphased and she actually fucking shot us! More than once. It’s been a long time since that happened.

Our psychic assault having failed, we opted for one of the classics. Fire! More fire than we’ve ever created. It blotted out the alley and the tram-way overhead, it nearly blinded us with it’s brilliance. But somehow, the amazing cyber-cunt dodged it; dodged an entire alley full of fucking magical fire. Fuck. Unfortunately, the explosives her crew had placed inside the office nearby did not have her movie-ninja knack for impossible acrobatics, so they promptly blew the fuck up.

Say what you will about the Thorne siblings, we know when we’re beaten. So we teleported the fuck away from that madness, back to the hotel room and our waiting companions. Everyone except Carter, who had been attempting to rescue us when the building blew up. We hate to admit it, but we’re starting to like him a bit. He’s pretty good at this captain thing (although, we’ll certainly take the credit for causing that to happen) and he didn’t have to come after us. For future, we shall have to be a bit more particular about the contingency plan, although who knew they would be trying to blow up the building we were trying to steal records from? Happy news though, he didn’t die! All the bitch-thugs did, though, so that’s something. We patched him up, and ourselves, and that was the end of a shit day.

Oh, did we mention? The original manifest and our copy were blown up in the fire. However, we did get a good look at it beforehand and we discovered that the blue shit came from a place called Kolono and was being shipped to Port Horwald. Oh, and it was being guarded by knights from the church.

So we sort of ran out both ends. We started with Port Horwald because it was closer, but we didn’t find a lot out. Only that the file that should have listed who had taken posession of the goods was missing, the whole day was, in fact. A So we elected to try the point of Origin, Kolono. It turned out that Kolono wasn’t exactly a tourist destination. A fact made evident by its absence on any of our maps. We eventually located a cartography enthusiast who knew of it, and pointed us in the direction of a place called “Dog Itch.” So we set out. On the way, more and more folk got off the train until we were essentially the only passengers. The conductor questioned our destination, suggesting that we were ill equipped for dog itch and it’s surrounding desert. We needed water recycling suits and the like. So we made the decision to travel on to Yellowtail. The nearest city with an economy robust enough to actually exchange goods and services for currency. On the way there, we noticed a vast explosion in the distance. Venture confirmed the site of the explosion as the mine at Kolono. Fuck.

So, what do we have? A shipment of psionically active blue shit being hauled out of the earth at Kolono. The only reason we’re aware of it at all is because Marva, who is missing, found a chunk of it herself and then we happened to see some of it at the station. Then it was shipped across the planet to the spaceport and all points of record along the way are destroyed or removed. Oh, and the church is involved. So, this is a cover-up, and it’s big and important and we need to figure it out and take it away from the church before they use it for something nefarious.

The black helicopter headed to a place called Fort Loyd. So it seems like that’s where we’re going next.

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Ka-Boom!
Olis recordings; these cleaners take pride in their work

Carter and Arden reports that the blue jade appears to take on properties of whoever is touching it. As a result, it was able to ghost like Carter. Later when they come back from Venture, Khiron tries to use the blue jade. I had no idea he had powers! He’s able to move the blue jade with his mind! He’s also able to make mental links, similar to Thorne. He also reveals that normally he has to touch the person to form the link but the blue jade can act on his stead. He calls it a psionic amplifier but I have no idea what that means.

A week has passed and no sign of Marva. What to do next? Thorne goes to track the shipment I saw on the platform. Carter decides to tail Throne. Probably a good idea since he has a way of attracting trouble.

Well, I guess there was trouble. We hear an explosion in the distance and Thorne suddenly appears in our midst, all smoldering, in the literal sense. He’s slightly panicked and babbles about cyborg ninja bayonets. What? Get a grip on yourself, man… or, uh, woman since Thorne is distinctly feminine at this point. We get the short version which is s/he managed to seduce a platform worker into showing s/him the records and found that the blue jade came from Kolono. However, the worker was killed by an assassin. Thorne tried to retaliate with mind control only to find the assassin immune to it. S/he then tried his blast power, which is also nimbly dodged but leads to a massive explosion. S/he’s also been shot in the firefight. S/he managed to portal her way back to us. Uh… so where’s Carter? That’s when we get the call from Carter. He is severely injured and requiring assistance. Khiron and I go fetch him. He is not a pretty sight. I manage to bandage him up a little, which gets him on his feet. Aware that there could be eyes on us, we bring him back to the hotel.

Carter and Thorne require rest. The next night a much healed Carter scouts the local warehouse where the blue jade was stored. There is no evidence of such a shipment. To be accurate, there is a chunk of information that is missing. Someone has been busy cleaning up.

We decide to check Kolono. It’s not listed on the railway map. We are introduced to Digby who really likes trains and everything about them. He finds out that Kolono is a mining site way out there, and the closest railway town is Diggage, which is in the middle of the desert.

We take the train to Diggage. The conductor asks a lot of questions. We pretend to be prospectors but it’s clear that we have no training and no equipment. The desert is apparently a lot harsher than we thought. I’m going to have to ask Venture about these places I’ve never experienced. Anyway, we’re on the train when we notice a giant smoke column rising in the distance. Carter asks Venture for information. There has been a giant explosion and Kolono has been destroyed. These people are really trying hard to remove all traces of the blue jade. Venture detects a black helikopter (it’s a flying vehicle) flying away from the explosion, heading towards the direction of Fort Loid.

I feel we are always a step or two behind these cleaners. Our current plan is to disembark at Diggage and rent/hire utes and drive overland to Fort Loid. It’s the best we can do.
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Blue Jade
Olis recordings; where is Marva Tregga?

The others speculate that the Gargoyle was probably created by the ancients who also created the gate system that allows travel between the stars. They were called the Wyyfendovi.
As we get up close to the Gargoyle, several things happen. Thorne fades from view. Gabriel is in ecstatic convulsions. We keep him comfortable. Arden gets a gleam in his eye and touches the artifact. He falls over unconscious. Carter and Khiron appears to have visions, as they look dumbstruck with glazed eyes. Suddenly I am overwhelmed by my own vision.

It is the dark of space. There is a dark spaceship. It does not look like the Venture or Crucifix or any other ship we have come across. It looks more like a rock, what Carter calls an asteroid. There is a chamber inside. There are many gate keys. One in particular catches my attention. It is the central key, ancient, with patina and tarnish. The key leads to somewhere important. I cannot hold onto the vision. I am falling away from it. The last bit I get is the ship’s name, Scion.

We gather ourselves and head back to Marfos, the capital city. We contact Gromes and are told the Inquisitors came around asking about us. Time to move (damn Gabriel). Marfos is a canyon town, built along the sides of the cliff face. The higher you go, the better the view, and obviously costlier. Nobles always want to look down upon you. When our train rolls into the station, I notice something a little odd. There are stacks of coffins on the platform, except, they are also guarded. Why would dead bodies need guards?

We decide to track down the geologist Marva Tregga. We visit her office at Kastamir Associates. We learn that she came back a week ago, spoke with the senior partner, and left in a hurry. Arden and Carter turn on the charm and the man mentions that her office is not locked. Hmm… In Marva’s office, Carter finds a mislabeled blue jade stone. Would she really have made such a mistake. It’s a clue so Carter pockets the stone. We find nothing else so we leave.

I get a sense that we are being watched, and sure enough there is a watcher. Arden uses his timey wimey powers to observe. The watcher is Grey Squirrel and he calls someone named Big Daddy. We decide to split up to get rid of the watcher and the trackers he called in. I manage to give them the slip after pretending to shop in the market area, then bolting away.

I meet up with the rest of the group and head to Marva’s domicile. Turns out it’s also being watched. What has this girl gotten herself into? Carter scouts by doing his ghost thing, and Arden and I slip in from the back door. The place looks tossed. We leave a message for her, just in case she returns, for a secure meeting location, her favorite food place.

We do some more digging around. Ralston K was mentioned before. It’s where she shipped equipment before. At first the shipper knows nothing about it but it turns out that it’s a secure site for Vrestag Industrial. It’s unlikely that Marva headed back there.

We decide to split up. Arden and Carter head up to the Venture. Carter needs Venture to analyze the blue jade. He also really wants to go into mercantile trade. He’s going to have Venture make things to sell. Meanwhile Khiron is gathering up local salvage and busy repairing things. I get sentry duty as I watch the food place for any sign of Marva. Good thing I have a partner I can talk to at any time. “So Venture, tell me more about your security protocols. What kind of external threat assessment do you do when you first encounter another spaceship? Internally, what do you do when a ‘guest’ arrives?”
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We stick out too much
Olis recording; miners, explosions, conspiracies, and super-golems

We head into spaceport town to explore. Immediately, and I mean immediately there is trouble. Thorne informs us that a Knight of St Hrond (heavily armed and armored) is tainted by the Unlife. And of course we are accosted by one Knight Maug (secret? Champion of Unlife?). How did he know? Sure, we look strange but no stranger than others. I have my suspicions. If Thorne can see them, they can see back. I will ask Thorne this. We manage to talk our way out of this, but we are clearly in their sights. The handgun and knife feel so small compared to the heavy plasma rifle and greataxe.

We come upon a gathering of people. They are complaining about House Arcturi and the rumor that we heard about the House betraying the miners. Suddenly, an explosion rips the place apart. The building is heavily damaged. We move to help. Of course, Gabriel calls upon powers beyond. I shake my head as yet again what we do attracts attention. He glows with the holy power and people notice. Meanwhile Thorne uses his surgeon’s skills to help the victims. It is utter chaos. I try to impose some amount of control over the situation and have some minor success. Arden informs us that he has peered into the past and found the bomber. Only, there were two attempts. The first, hidden attempt was the real bomb. The second, clumsy, identifiable attempt was meant to point the finger at the miners. Later, Gromes has secured us lodging. We decide to anonymously inform the Miner’s Union about the set up and real culprit.

We travel from the spaceport to Moorpoint, the seat of power for the Archbishop of this planet. There are many “tourists” as Arden calls them but I think many are pilgrims. They come to see what we have come to see, The Gargoyle. I had no idea it would be that big. It is, in essence, as tall as a small mountain at a thousand feet tall. Then the others tell me it is not a statue but an artifact. It is or was at one point a golem. I, I don’t even…
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Oh Look. They have a Voltron.
Carters vlog

We successfully made planet fall on the planet Bureaucratopolis where the System Baron and his lackeys Lackey about. Also there is a chapter of the Church militant – whom we ran into before we even left the space port. They adhere to galactic standard grumpy traffic cop demeanor. It is good to know that some things are universal. We managed to avoid fleeing from the gaze of their Authority as we presented our papers ( literal paper! Nary a biometric to be found! What an odd bunch of neoBarbs these are ).

Anyway. Knight Chaplain Maug evidently found us suspicious and felt the need for a once over. We made it through that gauntlet without incident, but I am concerned how he zeroed in on us from the get go.

We did the tourist thing for a bit whence we came upon a Miners Union todo where they were protesting Arcturi for their role in worker exploitation. It seemed a rather festive affair until a bomb went off. Much harried running about and scanning for follow on attacks ( I guess I’ve seen to many terrorist affairs in my day as my first impulse was to look for the follow on attack against the first responders ) as the group pitched in to help. We managed to discover the entire thing was a set-up, with the bomber very obviously trying to make a show of being an anarchist. Straight out of the Propo handbook. The more things change I suppose.

Venture was able to pick out the site of some planetary com nodes that were active during the bombing. After dealing with the locals’ idea of analog encryption she was able to pin down military traffic, Church traffic and the tail end of something from the Eminence saying they should follow up about us. I suspect further visits from Maug and his cohort.

Eventually we made it to Moorepoint, the seat of the Church ( a huge tourist location ) and “the gargoyle” which is clearly some sort of powered down, radiation absorbing Apocalypse Voltron.

Right.

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