Tether

Maas-JTF Coalition

To: Jen, Dia, Emanuel, Malcom

Silbe Marble allied with Hyleia in order to hack into Maas’ virtual reality systems. She believed that Maas had captured the original Argosian First Contact team from 17 years ago. This has been an ongoing obsession for her, that previously led her to accidentally kill Ichabad Machin, frame Mariella from Humanos, execute Humanos forces and act recklessly through the VR world.

Her hunt was quelled upon our encounter with Roland Fizzlebeef II and other high level Maas personale. The First Contact team arrived on July and encountered the planet’s automated wasp defense system. Though they died in the physical world, Maas rebuilt them within the virtual safe haven. Silbe stayed within VR a short time longer to spend time with her former comrades and broker a deal with Maas.

I have been appointed as ambassador to help bridge this divide, allowing the JTF into Maas’ system and interaction with the First Contact team. There are greater threats looming beyond Tether’s boarders and we must end the conflicts with Sovereign and Humanos in order to fight a larger battle.

-Roll Fizzlebeef III

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Tales of Bravery Issue 3: Maybe Determined

The full exciting issue

Tales of Bravery Issue 3: Maybe Determined

Greetings, fully individual and non-indoctrinated JTF career personnel. Welcome back to Tales of Bravery, the ongoing chronicle of the skilled men and women of the Joint Task Force’s elite Bravo Team. In the last issue, our heroes liberated Siberia base from the dark clutches of the sinister Destroyers and their ape army. Unfortunately, while our heroes fought valiantly abroad, their absence left the city vulnerable to domestic infidels.

Today, Bravo Team races to rescue one of July’s most power people from a league of evil terrorists lurking in the shadows. Join the fight and wage war against any suspected wrongdoer. Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь! Sieg heil Binary, 富国強兵 July!

-Roll Fizzlebeef de July vas Argosy III

Starring
Roll Fizzlebeef de July vas Argosy III
AmSalja Estia Uisa
Jenora Kadarin
Emanuel the Rat

Featuring
Silbe Marble
Othello Dimachki
Cun-Gorgoth Urgal
The Bat
The Rabbit
The Panda
The Rhino
The Wolf
Bernadette Vos Laren

Chapter 1: Nothing Comes Closer to Home
Big Joint Task Force Base, 3:00 AM. The Thenian jet opens and the Bravo Team jumps out in slow motion while looking away from explosions. It appears that the base was attacked while Siberia base was liberated.

“Sigh, I guess I’ll see if anything is left of the lab.”, AmSalja mumbles.

“It would be good to see what happened and how well we can assist”, Jenora adds.

“Whoa, the mission just ended. Let’s wait for orders”, Roll counters, “Plus I need to store this cool tech we gained. I’ll be in my quarters!”

Before the others can comment, Roll whiskys back to his room and promptly goes to bed. Dreaming of Dome Ball victories, Roll manages a good night’s rest. Hours pass peacefully…

KABOOM!

The walls quake as shockwaves rumble through the city. Roll opens his eyes, turns to his JTF standard issue cellphone and scans for any news. Nothing immediate, so he dozes off again in his warm, warm sheets. Two or three minutes pass and the phone starts vibrating. Roll would rather rest and get a sticky bun, but duty calls. He puts on on his slippers and heavy machine gun and reports to the war room.

Inside, Silbe Marble looks tattered, yet majestic. Jenora and AmSalja are already sitting around the table, looking like they didn’t sleep at all. Several members of the Binary coporation are also huddled around the room.

“The city has been hit by terrorists”, Silbe informs, “During today’s early hours the criminal gang run by Martha Maybe attacked Binary headquarters and leveled nearby facilities. As some of you may know, Binary is the nation’s leading manufacturer of commercial and industrial 3D printers. Attacks on their property could jeopardize global economics, supply infrastructure, and cause instability. For this operation, Bravo Team will be reporting directly to Binary Agent Othello Dimachki.”

Othello steps up and continues the briefing, “Thank you Lady Marble. Martha Maybe’s crew attacked Binary with heavy artillery of unknown origin. At least four or more of her enforcers have infiltrated the base. Your mission is to ensure that our CEO Bernadette Vos Laren survives this invasion.”

Othello transmits full dossiers and footage of Martha Maybe’s gang to Bravo Team. AmSalja closely reviews the records and points out that Rat somewhat resembles Emanuel, who has been missing for weeks. The team takes note of this and heads to Binary HQ on stealth bikes.

Chapter 2: Finger Ling-Ling Good
The JTF Bravo team makes their way to Binary HQ. There is a great lawn dividing the entrance to the rest of the campus, so our heroes cross through. Shockingly, Binary has some kind of dryad defenses that entangle the bikes. Roll easily jumps from his bike to safety, but Jenora falls and is ensnared. AmSaljia is quick on her feet and is able to toss out an acid to destroy the creature, but burns Jenora as well. The heroes make their way toward the outer perimeter walls.

“Cun-Gorgoth, can you lower the other defenses?”, Jenora asks over the comm. The Binary agent is able to disable some systems, but an overwhelming amount of radiation starts to emit. Roll cuts through a nearby wall and the team enters into an empty conference room.

The three make their way into the inner halls. Several Binary guards lay dead on the floor, and both Jenora and AmSalja arm themselves with their stun guns and take the ID badges. Upon entering the elevator bank, there is clearly a large amount of hard foam blocking several passageways. The elevators themselves seem to be jammed or possible traps. Roll sets up his trust sentry to guard the rear while he cuts through the broken elevator door.

“Hey, there is another body over there with a Rat mask and something sticking out of its butt.”, AmSalja notes.

“Could be Emanuel. He does fancy his butt.”, Jenora adds, “I’ll take a look.”

The Commander moves over to the fallen person, but is soon ambushed by an assailant in a Rabbit mask, wielding a sawed off shotgun. The masked Rabbit bounces about, dodging sentry fire and bolting for the northern hall. Roll and Jenora take flight, while AmSalja stays on guard.

“Uh, send back up,” AmSalja says over the comm, “Looks like we got a Panda here too.”

As Roll makes some good hits on Rabbit, Jenora doubles back to assist AmSalja. Rabbit twists around a hall and into the northern entrance of the room with the Rat. Roll is able to hit Rabbit again, but is soon forced into cover from sniper fire. Off in the southern rafters, a masked Bat takes aim. However, for a brief minute Rat rises to his feet and shoots suppressant fire at Bat as he flees. In turn, Roll is able to get back the elevators by destroying the glass case Rabbit has positioned on.

Roll catches up with Jenora and AmSalja, who seem to be engaged with a hulking Panda. He seems to be fazed momentarily, but not severely injured. As Roll takes a slice at Panda, the sentry shoots around the room, as Rabbit whisks through and dodges into one of the suspicious elevators. Bat tumbles in right behind, taking some grazings from the sentry. The three are able to take out the masked Panda and confiscate his two grenade launchers. They remove his mask and run a background check. It appears that this man was a missing person, presumed dead.

The JTF Brave Team moves over the Binary infirmary, where they find Rat patching himself up.

“Hey guys, it’s me, Emanuel!”, the Rat says in a muffled voice.

Although they are a bit suspicious, they are able to confirm that the terrible fashion sense could only be Emanuel’s narcissistic touch.

“I don’t know what happened to you for the last two weeks, but you’ll need to fall in line. Binary’s CEO is in trouble”, Jenora tells Emanuel.

Roll finishes cutting into the broken elevator and the team scales up with their Thenian provided repealing gear.

The team arrives just below a broken elevator. “Looks like it’s stuck”, Roll comments, “We’ll need to break through the shaft doors.”

Roll lodges himself and cuts open the door, and Jenora moves into the hall. The doors slam quickly shut and breaks what’s left of the Commander’s armor. AmSalja patches up her minor injuries.

“Emanuel, do you know the current situation with the the rest of Martha’s gang?”

“They are above, my Rat mask can track them a bit. We’ve put a dent in them, but they there still seems to be four of them alive in the building.”

Jenora orders the team to hoof it up the stairs to Bernadette’s chambers. Emanuel hesitates, not being sure it’s the right strategy. Jenora zaps him with her war staff and they lug him up to the next few floors. The elevators here appear safe and lead straight to the 99th floor where Bernadette should be recovering.

Chapter 3: I’ve Fallen, But I Can Get Up
The elevator arrives and Brave Team emerges to the sound of gunfire. There are two halls leading to the East and West. AmSalja and Roll make their way to the West, and see a large man with a Rhino mask towering over more Binary bodies. Just outside the elevator Jenora spots the masked Bat hiding in a room and opens fire with her new grenade launcher. Surprisingly, the grenade isn’t explosive and instead bursts into the hard foam seen on the bottom floor. With Bat trapped, Jenora and Emanuel head East.
The Rhino appears to be beating down the few Binary agents that are still breathing. Among the fallen, includes Othello on the brink of life. Roll stabs into Rhino with his awe inspiring plasma cutter, but it seems to slightly deflect towards non-fatal places. Rhino responds by punching the JTF hero square in the jaw.

“This is a decoy”, AmSalja shouts, “This thing is pulling us away from saving Bernadette.”

The doctor lays some suppressant fire, but ultimately heads off to join Jenora and Emanuel. Roll soon conquers, and heads to the west while firing at Rhino. They pass by some exploded walls and the crumpled body of a masked Wolf on the ground.

Jenora and Emanuel have subdued on of the enemies, but have suffered blast damage. They are currently within Bernadette’s chambers fighting off the bouncing Rabbit. AmSalja and Roll hastily enter and the latter quickly sets up his sentry gun. Rhino comes charging right behind them, but Emanuel is able to throw a C4 and detonate it right at the beast’s weak point.

Jenora is able to stick Rabbit to the ceiling with a shot from her foam grenade, but suffers a shotgun blast at the same time. The sentry peppers Rabbit in response, allowing AmSalja to treat the severely wounded. Not one for a direct fight, Bat flees with her compatriots dead.

Roll moves over to Bernadette’s veiled bed and takes a closer look. However, she’s not there and instead a young woman rests. Jenora approaches and recognizes her as Aura.

“Wait, where is Bernadette?”, Roll asks confused.

“We are as one”, Aura explains, “Aura has been chosen to join with I.”

AmSalja examines the medical equipment and discovers that parts of the large animal tumor were used in the treatment.

“So are you safe and recovered?”, Jenora asks Aura.

“Yes I am, but if you could please attend to Othello and the other wounded.”, Aura-Bernadette answers.

Roll looks through Rabbits gear, while AmSalja treats Othello. Emanuel seems to have disappeared again. He reemerges a few minutes later.

“There are many secrets within Binary.”, Aura comments, “But for now with must deal with the present danger of Martha Maybe.”

The walls shift and a screen shows the exterior of the Maas cathedral. Waves of spindly walker drones move towards it. The screen flashes and shows that Binary’s forges have been hacked and are producing these robots. The JTF, Thenians and Humanos have responded by sending troops into the city. The robots patrol around the streets and force sleek masks onto various citizens. The single eye of the mask shine just like those used by Martha’s gang.

“Let us be off.”, Aura states.

The walls further shift, and the room completely dislodges. The room flies through the air, towards the Joint Task Force entourage that has gathered several dozen miles from the cathedral.

“I will try to assist from here, but the fight will have to be yours, Bravo Team.”

Gadzooks what an amazing adventure! But the true battle is only beginning! The JTF Bravo Team will need to save the most holy Maas cathedral from the evils of Martha Maybe. But, just who is this dangerous criminal and why does she aim to desecrate such a divine place? Enlist in the Joint Task Force today and find out in the next issue!

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Mal's Braindump: Cathedral Siege Aftermath
JTF mission xxx007, i think. I'm not turning on comms to check.

Location

hyleia’s lair.

Recap

This is a mission in 3 parts: the immediate aftermath of the cathedral siege, subduing the masks in VR, and dealing with hyleia. The third part is most suspect. Trust Jen or Ansalja’s reports over mine. It’s up to you whether you trust E or me more. I’d probably pick E over me.

cathedral siege aftermath.

We weren’t in great shape. Maybe Maybe was dead. We started getting news updates from the surface as the temple systems appeared to reboot. It looked like Humanos was really wiping up all the masks. We started to ascend the stairs when a humanos squad took aim at Emanuel and their rat mask from above. Jen got in between emanual and the squad while i readied my AR. Before the shooting began, the head rector appeared and called them off. Then the monks came in to see to the wounded. Dia, E, and Arys got two monks each. I found a monk near the rector who appeared to be otherwise unoccupied and got my shoulder patched up. Then we made our way to the biodome, where the monks had set out a feast. How did they manage it so quickly? Whatever, the food was good and even better it was free. Weirdly enough, JTF was in no rush to debrief us, and we were shown to a dormitory that was rather spartan, but had an amazing shower setup. Meanwhile, the news kept showing Humanos soldier essentially genociding anyone in a mask.

On the way to the dormitory we passed what appeared to be a monk conversion chamber. Based on the dog hairs i spotted that belong to Pips, I’m pretty sure that pips is now a maas monk.

I asked the head rector about this, and was told there wasn’t much they could do, because they were having some trouble geting the masks off. I offered my asistance, and the head rector gave me a semi-raised permissions for VR so that I could try to help with getting people to take off their masks. I asked if anyone wanted to come with me, and Ansalja, E, and Jen all said they’d come along. We logged into VR and went searching near Dr. Blaze’s offices. I was worried about him since he wasn’t responding to my email.

VR

I took a generic VR avatar to blend into the background. Jen was riding an oversized Pips. E looked like a sparkly version of themself. Ansalja was a blonde in a white outfit with wings and a gold halo; it kinda looked like a styleized nurse or doctor.

We found a group of a few people. E immediately tried to convince them to worship them (E) instead of Martha Maybe. It seemed to work. Then E told them to take off their masks. It worked, but then they dipped out of VR. We weren’t expecting that, so we had no way to see what happened. We found another group, near a camera in real life and tried again. I hacked the camera so we could watch, and then hacked the masks, trying to overload the single red eye. It worked super well. All 5 of the people’s masks overloaded and they blinked out of VR. In real life, they fell over. 1 immediately started clawing at the mask. 1 threw up and had to be helped out of the mask by the other. The third’s mask came off too, but they weren’t moving. They seemed to be in shock. The fourth appeared to be dead. Some of the others attempted CPR, but it didn’t work. The fifth and final person appeared fine at first, and took their mask off, but then a few minuts later started hyperventilating and keeled over, also apparently dead. It looked like the masks grew cybernetic appendiges to attach to people’s faces. We found a third group and tried again. After we hacked the camera, I tried hacking the cybernetics to retract out of people so that the mask would come off easier. Some of the people escaped into a weird tunnel that looked like a cheaper version of the stone the temple was made out of, but of those whose masks came off, none of them were suffering lasting effects. At this point we decided to make a program combining these hacks with a video feed of E convincing the people that they wanted to take their masks off. Ansalja took my hacks and whipped something up weaving in E’s video. Jen sent it to the head rector, with a note that we were about to test it on a small group.

Testing went well. Almost all of them took off their masks and appeared fine. One ran into a laser tag area. We hacked the laser tag area to try to get access to the cameras to see where they went. E just ran in and tried to get the highest score possible shooting at targets. Since they were so into it, we hacked the score db so that E had the high score by some ludicrous amount. E was super happy with their gold sash and crown.

Then shit got weird.

We found the masked person crying in the fetal position next to a wall. E charmed them into taking off their mask, and they blinked out of VR. As we turned to leave, we noticed that the maze went off to infinity in all directions. E’s top score sash switch to a silver 2nd place sash and their high score crown disappeared. A maniacal evil laugh filled the maze and the crying avatar blipped back into existence. E tried to convince her to take off the mask again and in the process ended up touching her avatar with theirs. Then E got sucked inside her. Then the crying avatar grew to 50 feet tall and looked like martha maybe. Maybe Maybe wasn’t dead after all.

An army of the laser tag mascots suddenly appeared and started marching towards us and the massive avatar swatted her hand down to pound jenora. While jen tried to dodge, I quickly tried to hack the ground under the entire robot army to move to where the hand was going to come down. It worked perfectly, but it prevented Jen from dodging effectively. At least all the robots were dead though. I summoned my own army of laser tag mascots to attack the avatar but instead of shooting lasers they were shooting the program from earlier. It didn’t have much of an effect, but it did cause pixelated chunks to fall off. Unfortunately, they weren’t very big.

Then the avatar started sprouting snakes for hair. I immediately looked away, but jen and ansalja didn’t see what was coming. I’m not sure what they felt, but ansalja immediately stabbed herself in the face with what looked like a cartoon-ey needle and popped out of VR. I assume the liquid the needle injected was the program from earlier.

I spawned an army of heracles’s with the program for swords, but they only barely distracted the rogue avatar. Then the avatar started running towards me! I tried the same trick i did earlier with moving the ground under something, but instead I swapped the avatar’s direction to be the reverse of its current direction when it got within 30 feet of me. It worked perfectly! Jen yelled that we needed to get out of here as the avatar planned its next attack, but when I asked about E, she agreed that we weren’t leaving without them.

Suddenly the rogue avatar started sparkling, like E’s avatar did, and it punched itself hard in the face! Realizing E was inside of the avatar somewhere, I used my ground shifting trick to move E’s avatar next to jen and me. Somehow the same trick worked a third time. Before the avatar had a chance to attack, I yelled to jen to send a message to maas telling them to run the program we had sent them everywhere they could immediately. They must have been waiting for our signal and it must have worked pretty well, because we popped out of VR before Jen even finished saying that she’d sent it.

VR Aftermath

When i woke my hands were ziptied to my waist. My face had a single long scratch, and one of my nails had some skin under it. Huh, that must have been because of the itching that I felt from some of the near misses. Jen had worse scratching. Ansalja had it worst. From her bandages it looked like she nearly succeeded in ripping her face off. She wouldn’t admit it but I suspect she was the one to ziptie me after she bonked out of VR. Jen and E popped out of VR the same time as me so it couldn’t have been them.

Based on early reports the program ansalja and i whipped up saved 90% of the people, which was a full 10% better than the other methods maas had tried. Hopefully it was enough to stop the slaughter.

I tried to go to sleep but Pips was panting pretty hard and looking at the door intently. I couldn’t tell if it was some weird maas thing or if it there was a threat. I asked pips quietly if it was doing that. It looked at me for a second without blinking and then went back to staring at the door. That was enough to get me out of bed. I knelt down next to pips to see what it was looking at, and asked it what there was to guarding us from. A second later i got a VR invite for some throaway account. Normally those go to spam. I logged in an was greeted by a pips avatar. Not like jen’s avatar where she’s riding him, but like a photorealistic one. Pips idn’t say anything, but the avatar stared directly at a giant martha maybe avatar off in the horizon. I was about to ask for more, but then jen started petting pips in her sleep and i tlooked like she was about to wake up, so i called it a night and went to sleep.

The next morning we had another feast awaiting us. E got like 5 smoothies at one time, but the monks didn’t seem to mind, even though they were only taking one. I freaked out when a wasp landed on nearby monk’s head and batted it off, but the monk didn’t seem to register the threat. I think salja finally put 2 and 2e^ipi together and realized the monks were probably the dolphin humans from our first mission, because she kept trying to get the monks to take off their shoes. It didn’t work. All she got was frustrated and a pair of shoes. I tried to help, but all i got was a pair of socks and a credit poorer. Jen didn’t seem too shocked when I told her that pips had an avatar.

Hyleia
h3. Prelude

We still hadn’t heard anything from base, but we didn’t want to impose, so we got into our repaired APC and E drove usback to base. they drove much better than before. as we got to base I got a message from Wing, the dude who broke my arm on my first mission. I opened what i thought was a mail, but it turned out to be a videochat. He said he had something interesting. Since I had nothing better to do I said I’d go and then I asked the other 3 if they wanted to tag along. they agreed, so we clambered into E’s motorcycle and heded off for the meeting point.

Of course it was underground. And of course E drove too fast. He crashed onto a piece of debri and my sidecar got severed from the motorcycle. I tried to stabilize it but it didn’t go well. It crashed, and in the process I cut my left had and broke my rigt wrist. I managed to hike back to the rest of the group, and ansalja patched up my broken arm as much as she could, but that meant there wasn’t much left over for my hand. We managed to stop the bleeding for the most part and that was it. We walked to the meeting point, which was only like 3 minutes away.

Mission

Wing, Gord, and Ready Ritchie were waiting for us. Wing bantered a bit, and then called Hyleia but all he got was a busy signal. Then in my vision i saw red text “Follow all instructions. Don’t tell anyone.” and a timer counting down from 2.5 hours. I wanted to tell the rest of the team, but I didn’t know how much my cyber brain was compromised. Wing was clearly in on what was happening to me. The mission was simple: break into some base and kidnap “jack”.

We busted into the base and I hacked some lasers to get us from an outside hallway into a room. Gord guarded our escape path, but the rest of us made our way upstairs and hacked another computer. From what we found there, this appeared to be a facility to generate clones of the CEO of Humanos, Mr. Aptor. There weren’t any references to a “Jack” though. we made out way to another room and tripped an alarm. Luckily it was controlled by the computer from the room we just came from, so Ansalja and I raced back to hack the alarm off and report it as a false alarm. It worked well.

That’s the last thing I remember before Ansalja kicked me in the chest in a hallway. According to my EVA suit I got a nasty electric shock. I was pretty fed up at this point thanks to Wing’s needling, the stress of my brain turning to mush, and being unable to tell the rest of the team, so i did something stupid. I tried to hack the cyberbrain to prevent it from exploding. All I managed to do was make it tick down twice as fast.

Next thing I know E blew through a wall with one of his explosives. We must have set off an alarm we couldn’t shut down in between when salja and I turned off the alarms and when I started remembering things. Thanks to some quick thinking by Jen and a ggreat smoke grenade toss by Ansalja we were able to subdue the 8 “jacks” quickly. Wing pulled out a levatating cart for the bodies, and we started exfiltrating. While wing loaded the bodies I hacked the climate control computer and left an obvious file back to hyleia. No one else knows about this. The last thing I remember is attacking some 1000 pound arachnid that decided to inhabit one of the rooms between us and our exfiltration point. I’m not sure if it was the timer ticking down, or a bad voltage flux, but I went down.

Aftermath

I woke up in Hyleia’s lair to a horrible headache and some bad nausea. We must have been successful enough for her to fix whatever she tripped in my brain. I don’t remember much from our conversation, but I remember ticking off the favors she owed me after she had the gall to claim uploading her backdoor to Maas was a favor i owed her. There was 1) cleaning up after her henchmen couldn’t dispose of bodies properly and raised the suscpisions of the authorities 2) not implicating her in my official report 3) uploading her backdoor to maas 4) not informing maas about that 5) kidnapping jacks and 6) forgiving her for hacking my brain. She laughed and I reminded her there’s still the 7th favor of actually lobotomizing my brain, and asked how she’d like it were I to demand similar from her. Weirdly she seemed quite affronted that someone would want to do that to her or consider turnabout fair play, and then she “did it” to herself anyway!!! Not sure if she just gave herself a nosebleed or used nanites to lobotomize herself, or if she had a cyberbrain, but she definitely didn’t fall unconscious. I’m leaning more towards it being an act that she put on as a powerplay. She used that as an excuse to walk out, so i didn’t even have the chance to offer to tell her about the file i left. Her loss. She did pay the rest of the team for the help, so E is getting a new suit made by her robobutler. Hope it doesn’t come with strings attached, E. When the robobutler finishes then it’ll be my turn.

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Mal's Braindump: Cathedral Siege
(JTF mission xxx006, i think. I'm not turning on comms to check.)

Location

Hyleia’s lair

Recap

A few days after getting back from the yach mission, everything went to hell. There wasn’t even a road paved with good intentions or a handbasket.

martha maybe, prolific hacker extraordinaire, apparently fomented a rebellion via weird masks that seem to control a person.

Emmanuel got captured and fitted with a rat mask. appraently they were able to break free of the power. I’m not really sure, but the rest of the team who recovered them trusts them, so I’m not going to voice any disapproval, yet.

Large stiltbots are running around forcing masks on people.

Bios went through a “hostile takeover” and now their networked bitforges are mass printing masks for the stiltbots and can’t be shut off.

Oh, yeah, and the cathedral started doing weird shit.

I didn’t notice any of this, because i spent the few days since the yacht mission repurposing the wasps I got from the dolphin mission so that I can use them. They’ve only got a range of about 20 feet, but that’s enough for basic scouting into another room.

I came out for food, and got dragged to a briefing. Our mission was to assault the cathedral, and shut down the control center martha maybe was using to control everythig with 6 other JTF teams. Easy peazy.

Before the mission we had time to get new tools. It was the last time I’ve had a chance to tuly restock.

In addition to grabbing some extra ammo for my asault rifle, I grabbed a panda balaclava with a metal weave to provide passive emp protection for my cyberbrain via a faraday cage. When needed I can run an antenna outside so I can still communicate, but based on reports of Jen’s brain getting hacked, I wasn’t taking any chances. I also grabbed a mission impossible style face-mask. It’s stuck to one face, but all I care about is giving the mask a false purchase point if worse comes to worse.

beofre we left i hacked a bios’s dude’s email account to ensure fire support for us on the way to the cathedral. i wasn’t subtle. there wasn’t time and the briefing explicitly said to use any means necessary. i wrote bios a quick email apologizing, citing the exigent circumstances, and providing them a detailed account of how I manged to hack my way in so that they could close off that entrance point, but I delayed it to not send until after their bitforges were no longer hijacked. Hope that was enough to smooth things over.

We assaulted via an APC along with 6 others. Emanual drove. We arrived late due to them losing control over a bridge. By the time we arrived we saw the cathedral had sprouted spikes to try and attack the other APCs. two got hit. Since we knew what to expect, E was able to drive around them enough to let us assault the cathedral.

on the way i got an email from hylea. it contained an access key as well as some sort of backdoor. I don’t think she expected me to find the backdoor because it was pretty well hidden. I couldn’t figure out what it was a backdoor to, though.

we entered into the massive worship area. no one elese was in sight. At the far end were 3 closed doors, a locked one to the left, one shiny one in the center, and one to the right. E scanned the shiny center door and reported monks at terminals. I sent a drone into the shiny room through a hole in the door, and was able to confirm what E reported before it was destroyed. We looked into the door to the right and encountered a computer with a terminal.

i started interfacing with it using this laptop. It wasn’t going well. I used the key Hyleah sent. That got me in. It provided a visual interface to something that called itself Maas. As far as i could tell I had root. It wanted to do a direct brain hookup. I demurred. I tried to get directions to the computer core. It was taking too long and nearly overloading the laptop. Jen yelled at me to hury up, so I just hooked up to Maas. I got directions as well as security cam access to the next few rooms no matter where i was in the cathedral. the only directions I could get were through the locked door. I tried to download what appeared to be an antivirus to my brain, but it didn’t go well. i tried twice, and then Jen said it was time to go, so I unhooked.

We left back to the main hall. Jen ran up to the shiny door and yelled into the hole that we were there to help. It got met with machine gun fire. She dodged, and we lined up to asault the locked door. Then the monks started rushing out 4 abreast from the door with electrified swords

I was in good location, since we were lining up to assault the locked door, and managed to kill a monk as they rushed out. the team was quickly able to subdue those 4 but 4 more rushed out in the interim. I managed to kill another. Someone shot a foam grenade at the door, which sealed it off during the fight against this wave, but an errant grenade throw destroyed the foam and blew an even bigger hole in the door. That’s when the logging mech walked through, and stiltbots descended from the ceiling. the one nearest me went for roll’s turret, so I was able to get a disabling shot. Not sure who helped finish it off. pips and roll distracted the mech. I shot a stilbot that had pinned ansalja and was about to mask her, which caused it to stumble off off-balance. someone finished it off. by now roll was on top of the mech trying to laser sword his way to the cockpit. that’s when the sniper shot him in the chest. I repositioned below the sniper, so that i was out of the line of fire and continued shooting targets of opportunity. After ansalja got up she tossed a sleep grenade behind the mech which knocked out at least 8 monks. once the stiltbots were down we made short work of the mech. I think D took down the sniper. Someone did.

During the fight arys picked the locked and ran to scout ahead. Meanwhile we pryed on of the masks off one of the sleeping monks. She recovered after a few minutes, and then promptly slit all the other monks’ throats. She said we needed to purge the infections, and she couldn’t be sure they weren’t compromised, whatever that meant. She did give us permission to take some of the monks’ blades and directed us to sheaths for them. I took two. One to use and one to mount back in my room, because they are bad ass. Luckily the sheaths had a strap so i could put them on my back to carry them.

We caught up with Arys in the pool room. It was a 50 foot long room with weird nanite filled liquid in a pool that was overflowing out into the main room where we just defeated the monks and the mech. we didn’t want to touch the liquid, so we tried dumping bodies into the pool. then one exploded. We though it might have been the mask so we tried experimenting to see what caused the explosions. We couldn’t tell, so we made a harness, and shot a grappling hook across, so we could pull ourselves across. the mines kept coming. they had some sort of anticoagulant coated needles. nasty. Roll got hit hardest. Luckily ansalja had made some coagulant cream and stabilized him. When Everyone but me and dia were across, the security footage showed someone ina cat mask running up behind us. Dia and I engaged, but the cat was fast. I got hit with a crossbow bolt. jen sent pips, who had been guarding the female monk in the terminal room to assist. That did not go well for pips. We managed to kill the cat though. I pulled the mask off the cat to see what looked like a young woman with old grey hair. weird. I took the crossbow, what appeared to be assassin’s creed style wrist swords, and the mask. What was it with the cathedral and old-school weaponry? 2 sick-swords, 2 wrist-swords and a repeating-crossbow?

meanwhile, roll got pulled into the nanite pool, but some dude wearing a platypus mask. turns out he was what was sending the mines. salja jumped in to save him. roll used his jetpack to fly out of the pool while grappled with the platypus, and the rest of the team was able to kill him as he was diving back into the pool.

In the fight arys put on his invisibility cloak and scouted ahead.

jen came back across the pool to see to pips. the female monk offered to save him, because pips was in bad shape. jen accepted and we moved on. Pipsless.

the next room was a damaged reactor. jen and some of the others had encountered it before. The plan was to trun through as fast as we could. I was first. I got through fine. D, who was right behind me got surprise attacked by a kangaroo-mask and a koala mask. i set up outside the reactor room and prepared to cover the rest of the team. aside from ansalja they stayed to fight. I considered shooting the reactor, but there was no place to do it that wouldn’t also kill me, let alone the teammembers still inside, so stunning the attackeres and retreating to a safe distance wasn’t an option. We dispatched the two foes, ripped off their masks and moved on to the bio-dome.

Arys made his way through already and down into the well to get to the cube, but as soon as he went down we lost his signal, so all we knew was that there were wasps similar to the wasps in the dolphin mission. jen entered the biodome first and just started shooting the lights that provided the wasps’s command and control signal. It worked like a charm and we made out way to the well without incident.

we were able to make out some JTF suited bodies on the far side of the well inside the wasps area, but we didn’t have time to investigate further and we made our way down. I was in the vanguard, and we were still unable to raise arys. That could only mean he was in the middle of something important or somethign super quiet took him down.

we were assaulted by 4 stilt-walkers on the way down but made very short work of them. It was almost too easy. E got hurt pretty bad though, but I would have expected the descent to be better guarded.

When we got to the bottom, Arys was still in his cloak holding a knife to a person wearing a dog’s mask. upon seeing us he jumped to put in the usb stick to the cube to complete the mission. And that was when the dog-man exploded. Apparently arys’s movement gave him enough cover to trigger the switch on his vest. Arys survived, but was stunned, and had bad burns everywhere except for where his metal arm covered him. Before we had a chance to react further Dia ran to put her USB in. As she got close, the guy in the sloth mask dropped in upside down on a tether and shot her point-blank with buckshot. it wasn’t enough and the usb connected with the cube. I threw a monk-blade at the sloth’s tehter, and it cut it perfectly, but the sloth was able to semi-recover by catching himself with one hand. it wasn’t enough, though and he got pummeled by the rest of the team. Before we could kill him, jen tried to reason with him but in response he threw himself off the ledge, to what seemed to be death.

Meanwhile, what we assumed to be the body of martha maybe was birthed out of the cube in a mash of biomass goo. We could see bones. More than one of us got a DNA sample for further testing. When martha was ejected comms channel to the outside world, which were previously blocked, were no longer blocked. I saw my email to Bios send. i sent hylea an email indicating that the key had been used. Something like “the favor’s been repaid or something.”

Loose Ends

Is the sniper dead?

Why did the monk we saved consider herself cleansed enough, but none of the other monks worth cleansing?

Who/What is Maas?

What did hyleia want a backdoor to? did it succeed?

What did maas try to uplaod to my head? Why did it fail?

Why did the dog blow himself up like that?

Is sloth dead?

Why did the temple have the exact same wasps as were at the dolphin facility?

Is pips ok?

Is that actually martha maybe? Is she really dead?

What the shit was ary’s up to? Why did he practically run away from any confrontation? Or was he just running away from the group? Or maybe he was just trying to run ahaead and get there first?

What the shit happened with Arys and the dog down there? he can’t have just been holding the dog hostage like that for the entire time we were making our way through the pool, biodome, and down to him.

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Mal's Braindump: Prelude

Location

Hyleia’s lair.

Housekeeping Preamble

There’ve been about 3 missions since my last report for jtf. I’m making this log entry on my intrusion laptop while I wait for Hylea’s robo-servant to finish measuring Emanual for his new suit of armor. This is intended for me to read later in case my brain get scrambled, but in case it goes worse for me, I previously setup a deadman’s switch server that will contact Jenora, Dia, Roll, Arys and Silbie Marble (5 days later. sorry silbie, i need to make sure you don’t prevent the rest of them from getting a chance to read it) with instructions for decrypting this laptop should they gain access to it or it manages to upload its contents after I bite it. It took a good bit of hacking, but everyone else’s decryption process ensures that everyone will receive an unencrypted unmolested copy. Well, everyone who reads it. I seriously doubt jenora will even see the email, let alone read it.

I’ve shut off my cyber brain, my comm, and I’ve got the privacy screen on with my back against a wall. Hopefully that and the way I setup the laptop to use homomorphic encryption on both the memory and the processor and the trucypted disk is enough. I should have enough time to get everything typed before E finishes with the robo-tailor.

Assuming I get out of this mess with my brain intact, I’ll delete the parts that are rehashed by official reports I file. Ok, enough blathering.

Background for the others

Oh, yeah. I got a black market cyber-brain from Dr. Blaze a while back. Jen knew about the brain after the yacht mission. Not sure anyone else did, but i think ansalja might suspect.

I’ve reason to believe that it’s been hacked by a criminal underboss with the abilitiy to lobotmize me at a moment’s notice. Hopefully that won’t happen, but the way things have been going lately, I’d best not count on that. Seems they didn’t mess with me until after we fucked up martha maybe at the bottom of the cathedral.

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Mal's Braindump: Yacht Mission
(JTF mission xxx003, i think. I'm not turning on comms to check)

Location

Hyleia’s lair

recap

After I got back from the mission to investigate the dolphin bodies, I got a med check. It wasn’t good enough. A few days later some fungus they didn’t think to scan for decided my throat would be the perfect place to germinate and nearly choked me to death. In between attempts to auto-heimlich myself using the footboard of my bed, I managed to put out an emergency call to 911 and unlock my door. They managed to stabilize me and get me into treatment but I was in quarantine for a week. Right before I got out, Silbie told me I was going on a vacation on some hover luxury yacht with a bunch of bios, humanos, and maas mucky-mucks, along with herself, Jen, Arys, and Dia.

She tried to spin it as a reward/vacation, but it was pretty clear that we were there to do some major PR damage control with the indigene factions.

Before we left I got fitted for a pretty sweet formal suit. It tastefully incorporated modular effects that each faction appreciated, so I can switch them out depending on which (or all) faction i’m trying to impress. The best part though is that it fits perfectly over my EVA suit and completely hides it. Officially I wasn’t allowed to bring my intrusion backpack. I sent silbie an email pointing out the ludicrous waste of resources sending 4 highly trained JTF agents for “vacation”, and wondered if there was actually another reason for sending us on this vacation and if my hacker pack might come in handy for such a mission, if of course, one were to exist. I didn’t get a reply, but she did send a courier to pick up my tools and gave them back to me on the boat. Instead of a backpack, they were all inside a sweet attache case that matched the formality of the suit I mentioned earlier. The best part, though, was that it also had a storage area for my assault rifle and a folding stock. Not sure what that bit was about since I was allowed to take my assault rifle on the yacht, but I figured silbie knew best.

We were first to the yacht.

Bios showed up next on these sweet proprietary hoverbikes wearing what looked like helmets that were about 80% of the way to a cyberbrain. I chatted briefly with what looked like the highest-ranking bios rep, a guy about 7ish years older than me by the name of Othello demackie, about how awesome the bikes were and extracted a promise to get to ride around on one at some point in the near future. Humanos showed up next. they were all way into or past their 40s. The youngest guy there waved to me pretty happily but we didn’t chat then, though. Last to the yacht was Maas. They acted like robots. As the first one passed me I gave him a slight bow to acknowledge him. This seemed to impress him or something and he bowed back deeply along with every other maas rep as they passed.

The first night wasn’t too exciting. In the afternoon arys got fucked up on some synthetic alcohol with the Bios dudes and jen played some blarnsball on the lido deck. Dia disapeared to somewhere. I just sort of wandered the ship looking for interesting areas. I got a cool blueprint of most of the ship earlier, but it was nice to see it in person. Security was provided by the thenians. I’m not sure, but I think our healer salja might actually be one of the more charming thenians. Talk about brusque and direct personalities.

There was a formal dinner the first night. I got to wear my cool suit. Arys was still coming down from the synthetic alcohol (how much did he drink?). I chatted with the humanos guy who waved at me earlier. He seemed friendly enough, and gave me some information about going to a place called the green. I’ll need to do more research on that. I also chatted with a cute Bios gal who was temporarily tending bar. Her drink wasn’t half bad and she was pretty flirty with me, but she offered me a job with Bios too, so I’m not sure how much of it was an act. I demured from accepting the job immediately, because i wasn’t sure how JTF would feel about moonlighting. Best to stay on the good side of the guys with an orbital defense laser pointed down at a planet instead of out into space. I tried talking to maas with jenora, but I’m not sure how well that went. jenora gave them some information from the last mission, that maas seemed to appreciate quite a bit. I also tried chatting with one of the thenians who was off-duty, but she was as brusque and to the point as ever. On her advice I sent a commendation email to ansalja’s commander regarding the skill with which she carried out her contract. Maybe it’ll get her to warm up to us a bit more. I get the impression that she can’t stand either roll or me, though I can’t really blame her for disliking roll.

After dinner, some bios dude took me and arys or jen down below the yacht to see the propulsion system. It was pretty cool. Dia disappeared again. I sent silbie an email that night asking about which faction to follow up with since I’d made in-roads with all 3. I got a quick reply to go with humanos encoded in PR speak.

Early the next morning, we were treated to some chromed out tenian mech taking down a massive 50 foot long robo-dragon thing. At first I thought the chrome was for looks, but the robo-dragon had electromagnetic-wave weaponry so the chrome was actually inteded as armor against it. It was pretty impressive.

After a quick breakfast we went on “the hunt”. Well, me and Jen did. Dia claimed she felt sick and arys said he ate something that disagreed with him. We weren’t told what we were hunting. I was on my way to chat up the humanos guys when Othello intercepted me and told me I got to use one of the cool hoverbikes or the the hunt. The best part was that my chaperone was mallory, the cute bartender from last night. It took me a few minutes to get acquainted with the bike controls, and it was lucky I did, because we drifted off from the hunting barges humanos and maas/bios (the ones not on bikes) were using and got attacked by a robo-wolf. We were barely holding our own when Jen sent Pips to help us out. Pips shook the wolf off and then mallory managed to take it out with the one rocket-spear we grabbed from a barge before speeding off.

That encounter brought us back to the barge to get some more spears. During this time the humanos barge had drifted off ahead and out of view. Next thing we knew shardad bakko, the humanos guy i talked to the night before had fallen off the barge and died. While the thenians were collecting the body, Jen switched to the humanos barge from the bios/maas barge. I guess she thought the death was suspicious too.

we didn’t have much time to dwell on it though, because the object of the hunt appeared shortly thereafter. It was some massive 50 foot elk. I raced off to meet it and Mallory was able to get some great shots in, but it was only wounded, and turned to attack us. I raced us back to the humanos barge, hoping it would abandon it’s attack but it didn’t. it just switched to attacking the humanos barge. Oops.

For it. not the barge. the also got some great shots in, and when it looked to be almost dead i maneuvered my bike in between the barge and the elk, so that only mallory had an uncontested shot at it. She got it dead to rights between the eyes. Before we could celebrate Jen hit mallory with a tesla spear/staff and knocked her unconscious. While I was focused on keeping mallory on the back of my bike and not falling 50 feet, jen started loudly congratulating Mr. Aptor, the humanos ceo for killing the elk. Everyone else bought it because jen was between mr. aptor and the rest of the yacht, so no one could see whose spear was whose. I was able to flip mallory onto the barge without crashing the bike and jen managed to catch her. Based on silbie’s email, I backed up Jen’s decision and congratualted Mr. Aptor back on the yacht for not only killing the elk but doing so right before it attacked my bike. his subordinates were in awe of him, so we damn well better get some points from him and humanos.

After lunch blansball games were scheduled between the different factions but I begged off due to the remaining effects from my fungal infection (i still had an antifungal stent i needed to wear.). I checked on mallory in the ship’s infirmary (she was still unconscious) instead of hanging out at the game.

That night 4 maas reps were killed. When the gunshots went off, Jen, pips and I went charging towards the noise in our pajamas. Dia and Ary stayed in my room and provided fire support from my window (which overlooked the part of the ship where the maas rooms were).

Jen and I talked out way into inspecting the rooms with the dead Maas reps. It looked like they were killed in their sleep without much struggle. Pips apparently picked up a scent, so jen had her track it.<everyone>…staight back to silbie marble.</everyone><silbie> Sadly pips lost the scent before we could find it. As we were walking back towards our rooms we passed silbie</silbie> We spoke for a few minutes, but nothing and then we all wnadered back to bed.

The next day we had a poker game with bios and humanos while the yacht was heading back to port. Jen and arys did ok, but I went all in when I shouldn’t have and lost a credit early on.

After we got back to port Jen gave me a credit and told me to take Mallory to dinner to thank her for keeping quiet about the Elk. It did not go well. mallory was pissed. She had a massive lightning scar from where she got shocked. I tried to explain that i had no idea Jen would do that, but all I could do was give her the credit and direct her to Dr. Blaze (oops) before she stormed out.

Jen called a poker game later that night to discuss what we lerned during our investigation that night with dia and arys to see if they had seen anything during the day while they were on the yacht, but they were pretty adament that they were in their rooms puking.

Loose Ends

why did silbie get me my hacking/intrusion shit on board if she didn’t want me to use it?

why did shardad bakko get killed?

what was he referring to the night before? Is it related?

Are the maas monks terminals to a super-computer/hivemind? Othello mentioned that it wouldn’t matter who Jen spoke to the first night regarding her information?

WTF was that robo-dragon, who created it, why, and why did it seem to want to attack the chromed-out mechs?

What was the weird tumor like organ that the thenians were harvesting from the elk we killed? what’s it used for?

Who killed the Maas reps? Why?

What were dia and arys up to? they were the only ones feeling sick that day.

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Mission Log 006
Assault on Cathedral

Accessing Mission Log 006

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mal's mission log for mission 1

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1fICbOJ_8_8wygbafzrLE9ckmy1bcwa9Fge5GEjgmSvs/edit?usp=sharing

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Mission Log 005
Rescue Bernadette

Accesing Mission Log 005

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