Mastery over one's fate, freedom to live out one's life as one deems fit, was not always, or by everyone, recognized as the ultimate value by any stretch of imagination. Especially when it came to having this privilege extended to others. In most cases, however, one would still naturally pursue and shape their reality towards their desires within constraints imposed on them by the letter of the law, moral code, religious dogma or simply imposed will of someone stronger.There would be those who would strike out past and against such constraints, breaking them, pushing their boundaries, working around them or escaping their reach. And there would be those who reject any such constraints altogether.It remains a question to which extent such limits can be truly escaped, considering they may be deeply ingrained in one's own mind, or be emerging naturally from dynamics of interaction between sapients. But in any event there have been instances where attempt was made to form at least some approximation of community where one's personal freedom was the core principle shared by its members.Success of such attempts was varied, as was their faithfulness to their constituing ideal. Some managed to reconcile the tensions better than others, some quickly deviated from the path their founders would have wanted. There was however one point of vulnerability that to some extent remained shared between them all - while pursuing one's individual liberty within arm's reach, it was easy to forget about outside powers and interests. Unfortunately, that seldom meant that these entites would reciprocate this favour.Now, as you stand at the edge of a gathering in the great hall you have spotted before, apparently designated 'Thing' by the locals, and listen to the back and forth between speakers, you are reminded of some of such cases.You are doctor Henri Ford, special consultant for Citadel Institute of Xenoarchaeology and currently also a part time investigator. With Eve, your synthetic companion, you came here looking for a missing person, or more accurately missing people, and while you wait for the darkness to blanket your approach to the suspicious warehouse your instinct tells you to investigate you decided to take in some local context for the situation you are working in.
"...and for this reason I suggest against doing business with Mehmet Sharif. Nevermind purchasing his products, unless you are fond of rat meat." A stocky man concludes his diatribe and with a nod steps back from one of the three pulpits arranged in a triangular pattern in approximate center of the hall and retreats back into the gathering."Ahem. Thank you for your input, monsieur Kaminsky." Another man standing at one of the other two pulpits takes the vote. "I feel compelled to point out monsieur Sharif did not attend the meeting and so only one side of the dispute was heard.""His absence is a statement in itself!" A voice calls from the gathering, as far as you can tell from the direction monsieur Kaminsky disappeared in."The gathered are asked to maintain order, please. Now, next issue to be discussed based on the agenda lottery..."As another speaker takes the floor, you begin to question wisdom of coming here."Ladies and gentlemen." A well groomed woman dressed in a good quality formal outfit takes one of the pulpits. The spot across from her was taken by another, shorter woman with short dreadlocks dressed in a simple loungewear. "Brothers and sisters." The shorter woman greets."Introductions seem unnecessary, but for the sake of the form:" The man says "Madame Lucia Bolívar on behalf of the Ancap faction. Madame Jasmin Schumacher on behalf of the Syndie faction. As the proposing party, Madame Bolívar has the vote.""Thank you, president ."You catch yourself wondering at the position of a president in this community. You must have given away your surprise somehow because you hear Eve whisper in your earpiece:"I took note of assembly rules posted on a sign outside. A person to preside over the meeting is selected by lottery from a pool of volunteers to ensure fair flow of the debate."You nod in thanks, then return your attention to the topic at hand.
"Most of you, I assume, have heard my proposal before." miss Bolívar begins. "As you are aware, the day of the election for provisional system administration is drawing near. Each sapient present in the Sol system, is asked to cast their ballot. While I'm aware many of us gathered here couldn't give a broken nickel about stellar politics, my colleagues and I are concerned that such courtesy will not be returned to us." There are some sneers from the audience at that. "As the dust continues to settle, the powers that be will inevitably seek to integrate our community back into the fold. And to emphasize this growing urgency we have agreed that we need to take the proposed response one step further." There's low murmur as the woman makes a pause before continuing. "Rather than voluntary code we have previously proposed, today I am bringing forward a draft of a document that would improve our community's position when the push comes to shove and allow us to preserve our way of life even as around us the old world returns with all its faults and ailings."The woman makes another, longer pause. When it seems like the president is going to prompt her, or the other party, she speaks up once more, diction deliberately slower and louder."Today I propose a constitution."The gathering falls completely silent for what feels like seconds, then erupts into agitated pandemonium of chatter and argument, with some whistling and booing mixed in for good measure. Madame Schumacher, the woman who had yet to take vote, was visibly taken aback as well, if her expression was of any indication, but she quickly regains her composure as the president calls the audience to order."Please, ladies, gentlemen, calm yourselves."When the gathering quiets down, miss Schumacher speaks up."To call this proposal a bold one would be an understatement." She begins, prompting some assenting murmurs from one side of the assembly where you suspect her compatriots are gathered. "Not knowing exactly what this document entails I'll withhold judgement on its contents... The notion alone is contradictory, however! Our way of life, as you put it, is defined by not being subjected to an authority. Creating one now would not preempt some hypothetical risk, it would realize it straight away!""I am of course well aware of the implications." miss Bolívar says. "But I am confident that once the public reviews text of the proposed constitution and hear our arguments, the advantages of it will become clear. The full text has been already posted on Thing's extranet forum. I'd like to make use of what time we have left during this meeting to at least discuss some highlights.""By all means. Let us begin by government authority." miss Schumacher challenges, leaning forward on her pulpit and glaring daggers at her opponent."Certainly. The constitution foresees appointment of a Speaker that would represent the community and its principles, as agreed upon by the Thing..."
From this point on the debate settles into a pattern of miss Bolívar presenting various points of the proposed constitution while her opponent counters by pointing out how the proposal restricts existing freedom, invites risks of power abuse or contradicts values or practices of various faction present in the community (and, presumably, the Thing attendees), to which the proposer attempts to find counterpoint or asserts that the risk is outweighed by benefits. As the back and forth progresses, the tumult among the gathering also ebbs and spikes. It appears the gathered squatters have invested themselves into the matter, expressing freely their disdain or support for arguments of the either side.As you ponder the significance and possible outcomes of this debate, standing in an impromptu gathering place of an extralegal settlement, and you place these events alongside other chains of events that are already unfolding, you feel a gentle nudge break you out of your reverie."Ford, I've spotted one of the missing persons." Eve whispers."You what?" You say aloud, prompting one or two glances of nearby anarchists, though they quickly return their focus on the ongoing debate."The Asari, Feria Miran. She is here, among the attendees.">Navigate the crowd right away to reach the Asari. Most of the gathered seem focused on the debate, but your maneuvering may not go unnoticed.>Wait for the Thing to end and gathering to disperse, then intercept the Asari. This may take a while.>Pay attention to the argument. Maybe you'll be able to discern the intentions here.>Leave the Thing, confer with your teammates.>Leave the Asari be for now, she seems safe. It's getting late, let's head back to the suspicious warehouse instead.>other course of action
A non-comprehensive summary of previous issues:https://pastebin.com/Wxid98e6Previous issues:First thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/3369286/Subsequent threads:http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Henri%20Ford
>>4226816>Navigate the crowd right away to reach the Asari. Most of the gathered seem focused on the debate, but your maneuvering may not go unnoticed.what a fun bunch of people, lol
>>4226816>Navigate the crowd right away to reach the Asari. Most of the gathered seem focused on the debate, but your maneuvering may not go unnoticed.But do not look or interact with her for now, let Eve keep track of her, she can be way more discrete.While>Pay attention to the argument. Maybe you'll be able to discern the intentions here.If she is here she is invested in this so we can see what her position is and use that to get closer or to interact with her.
It doesn't take you long to decide on your priorities. If the Asari was here, apparently free and unharmed, she must be heavily invested into this matter - enough for her to neglect getting back to the Guildmaster over her missing compatriots. You cannot afford to lose her here, but at the same time you need to know more about the issue for when you confront her."Eve," You lean towards your companion and whisper, knowing that while surrounding hubbub drowns your voice to your own ears, she'd be able to pick it up easily. "Keep track of her. I'll try and figure out what this is about.""Certainly, Ford." Eve replies directly to your earpiece and disappears into the crowd. As she does so you are reminded that considering the circumstances you are in a potentially hostile territory and feel a tinge of vulnerability as your only companion leaves your side. You promptly banish the thought and keep your hand from inching towards the pouch where you keep Libella's gift and focus back on the debate that continues to rage on, hopefully to discern what exactly are the stakes here.The argument is heated and fast paced and the effort to parse it for what's actually important requires you to put most other concerns aside. After several minutes it becomes apparent that neither side is going to back down from their positions in the slightest. That, considering the anarchic nature of the gathering, leads you to wonder if the faction proposing the document is expecting to have a chance for the motion to succeed - and if not, what the point of the proposal actually is.The sentiment is apparently shared by the presiding anarchist as he asks madame Bolívar whether she wishes to continue advocating her proposal despite apparent opposition ruling out possibility of unanimous acceptance. The faction rep is not deterred, however, and resumes argument with her counterpart.At that point some of the gathered begin to trickle out of the hall, having lost interest in the doomed debate. Eve doesn't inform you of your objective being one of them, though, which you take as confirmation of her commitment and stay as well.Over next hour or so madame Bolívar presents her vision of a formalized society that would at heart revolve about enshrinement of private property and contract law. This puts her at odds with her counterpart, mostly on fundamental level where the two would argue about definition of ownership-related terms such as 'personal' or 'private' and consequences these could have in regards to enforcement of the rules, should some sort of agreement emerge. Neither side seems to call for any sort of oversight institution - if anything, they seem in agreement that outside scrutiny should be collectively kept out, which you imagine makes sense considering large chunk of business concluded here is rumored to be of clandestine persuasion.
Eventually madame Bolívar exhausts the bullet points she wanted to present and the debate shifts fully onto ideological level. It's about that point that majority of the gathering breaks up and heads for exits..."Ford, miss Miran is taking her leave."...including the person you're actually interested in. You find a secluded corner where you won't get bumped in by leavers or overheard by dedicated attendees and whisper into your comlink:"Any insights yet?""I did not approach her, but based on my observation she seemed extremely skeptical of the discussed matter, very expressively so at times." Eve reports back. "Do you want me to keep tailing her?">"No. Chat her up, I'll join you momentarily." - You'd like to talk to her and ask her about her missing fellows, and early approach may win you some trust.>"Go ahead. Let's learn what we can before confronting her." - What if she's involved in the disappearances somehow? Approaching her early might tip her off.>"No, let her go. We have other priorities." - You want to look at and into that warehouse ASAP, you are confident you can find the Asari later - after all she seems to be the only one in almost exclusively human community.>other course of actions
>>4229357>"Go ahead. Let's learn what we can before confronting her." - What if she's involved in the disappearances somehow? Approaching her early might tip her off.
>>4229357>"Go ahead. Let's learn what we can before confronting her." - What if she's involved in the disappearances somehow? Approaching her early might tip her off.If she didn't notice us we can claim we just found her when we do talk to her.See where she is going and then we stop her for a chat
Rolled 70, 58, 97 = 225 (3d100)Please, roll some 1d100s
Rolled 27 (1d100)>>4229541
Rolled 17 (1d100)>>4229541
Rolled 40 (1d100)>>4229541
Rolled 79 (1d100)>>4229541
"Go ahead." You tell Eve. "Let's find out more, in case she's involved.""Understood. I'll transmit appropriate telemetry." She responds.With that you weave into one of the groups of the Thing attendees as remainder of them gradually lose interest in the increasingly abstract exchange. Once in the open you consult your omnitool and check the improvised map."It seems our mark is headed deeper into the red zone." Lea comes in over the comm as you follow two blips on the automap, a steady blue one indicating Eve and a white dot occasionally turning gray when it leaves Eve's field of vision momentarily - obviously indicating Feria. "Looks like clusters of shanties intermingled with patches of ground, perhaps intended for cultivation."Scrolling around the map you are inclined to agree with Quarian lady's hypothesis. This was the part of the squatted region where industrial and warehouse district gave way to the lower-class residential area, spreading from larger blocks, including the tenement you spotted earlier, to suburbs consisting of smaller homes packed relatively densely but still allowing decent amount of freely accessible soil where gardens used to be.At some point the place has been ransacked by Reaper creatures, pillaging and firefights with the survivors that left the original structures in an array of states between ruin and abandonment, some of which has been made up by impromptu dwellings set up by the squatters.You wait for a few moments to get a feel for general direction, then head out to follow Eve at some distance, realizing that it would be impossible for the two of you to follow the Asari inconspicuously enough.Initially it seems you are making your way away from the former city center, out into the suburbs, but as you pause occasionally to check your bearings..."Huh. Looks like you're doubling back towards the blocks." Lea confirms your suspicions.What would be the point? Did the Asari change her mind regarding her destination? Or was she so paranoid that she started off in the other direction to confuse possible pursuers? Or...You pick up the pace as the suspicion dawns on you, intent on closing the gap between you and Eve's position as she herself walks casually to regain line of sight on the gray dot making way behind a derelict apartment building. If you were right..."Eve, I think she -" You begin but drop the subject and break into a run when the white-blue flare of a biotic blast lights up the night ahead of you."I've been discovered. Sorry, Ford." Eve says in your earpiece, her voice eerily level considering the situation you run on in as you round the next corner.
The Asari, Feria Miran, is standing in a break in a wall, possibly the opening she used to get the drop on Eve. Your gynoid companion is dropped in half crouch, presumably having dodged the previous attack and prepared to defend herself. In the nearby pavement a long groove stands out, you think you can spot tiny sparks of dissipating dark energy around it."Not a step closer!" The Asari hisses, her outline aglow with tendrils of mass effect anomalies - she was clearly keeping a barrier around herself while focusing a ball of concentrated force in her hand, her eyes darting between Eve and yourself.You raise your hands in a pacifying gesture, keeping your weapons folded at your back."Easy, now. We just want to talk." You say."Like fuck you do!" Feria snarls. "You think I'm stupid?" She looks back at Eve. "Hold on a moment. You're one of those fighting sexbots." Back to you. "And by your outfit... alright, who sent you? Answer carefully if you don't want to be picking up your brains between here and Paris."Well, it seems you're off to a great start."Nobody sent us. We are looking for Marc and Rita." "Oh yeah? And how is that supposed to be justification for tailing me?">(Truth) "You are the last person who was seen with Marc. I suspect you may have to do with his disappearance.">(Lie) "We were looking for you and were about to approach you. Do you make it a habit of assaulting strangers for no reason?">(Deflect) "Two of your friends are missing and Gorax is worried you were as well. What is going on here?">(Attack) If you charge her with assistance of your jetpack, between you and Eve you should be able to subdue her... although how cooperative she will be afterwards?>other course of action
>>4229749>(Deflect) "Two of your friends are missing and Gorax is worried you were as well. What is going on here?"The truth may saund like an accusation, this too, but at least someone is worried about her
>>4229749>(Truth) "You are the last person who was seen with Marc. I suspect you may have to do with his disappearance."
>>4229749>(Deflect) "Two of your friends are missing and Gorax is worried you were as well. What is going on here?"
"Two of your friends are missing." You answer firmly. "Gorax was worried that you are, as well."Feria frowns. "Alright, so you know of Gorax. Hardly surprising, considering we're both from the Guild. Why should I trust you?""How am I supposed to earn your trust?" You ask, exasperated. "I haven't met you before now, and only went looking because I'm looking for Marc and his fiancé.""Well, not trying to sneak up on me would be a good start. Barring that, telling me why the fuck you did might help!""Fine." You relent. "As I said, We're looking for Marc Blanc and now Rita Rouge as well, on behalf of Marc's mother. And we've been tracking you to figure out your part in this mess. Frankly, as far as I know you are the last person who saw at least one of them and as such may well be involved in their disappearance."The asari keeps staring at you for a few moments. "What business does Alliance have with them, or us?""What do you mean?""What I said, smartass." She says. "Last time I've heard of these they were stored away in Alliance dungeon somewhere." She says, gesturing at Eve. "That means you must be on pretty fucking good terms with them."Well, she's not wrong."Well, you're not wrong. Securing her release was not exactly a walk in the park." You say aloud. "Even so, I'm not military and I'm not here on Alliance business." Your gaze darts towards Eve and back."Am I supposed to just buy that?" She asks, though you do note a degree of hesitation in her voice. You didn't tell a lie and if she takes any pride in her ability to sense motives she could probably tell as much - or consider you an exceptional liar."I don't intend to go burning flags to prove myself," You say. "...and I'm sorry if my own caution set you off so much. But I need your help. Two of your companions are missing and possibly in danger.""They can take care of themselves." She says weakly. "What if... they don't want to be found?" She adds in a stronger voice."Then I'll apologise and you can kick my ass." You respond calmly, relaxing your posture. "It wouldn't be the first time when I'd be glad to have been wrong."Feria finally lets the primed ball of dark energy dissipate, though she keeps the barrier up. "We'll see about that." She says, "Alright, I'll hear you out. Not here, though. Get walking." She gestures down the street, back in the direction from which you came. "You two first." She adds.
Feria walks you and Eve short walk away through the remodeled suburbs until you reach a specific half-destroyed home. This one was slightly larger than most in immediate neighbourhood, hinting that family living here must have been relatively better off - enough so in fact that they could afford private landing zone for a skycar. The shuttle was of course nowhere to be found but when Feria made a few taps on her omnitool the garage door opened letting the three of you in."Alright, we should have some dependable privacy now." She says. "Now... you said Marc and Rita didn't check in with the boss?""If by Boss you mean guildmaster Gorax, no, they did not." You reply. "They were supposed to? Do you know what they were doing?"She hesitates before answering, and when she does answer it's not the kind you were hoping to hear."You said Rita is gone, too?""Yes. Apparently she went looking for Marc first.""Shit."You sigh. "Miss Miran, will you please tell me what's going on?""Why are you really here?"Closing your eyes you reiterate. "Marc's mother was looking for someone to find her missing son. We volunteered.""Just like that?""Excuse me?""What do you expect to get out of it?" She asks. "I know Marc's mom used to be a big shot apparently. But with how fucked world is I don't imagine she's got much to share. So, what exactly do you want out of this?"In truth you didn't even speak to Amelia about compensation. The job ad may have mentioned something about family heirloom or some such but it never actually came up. The reason why you took the job was because of multiple indication you got that something rotten was going on here. But is the paranoid Asari going to believe that?Well, truth has gotten you this far... then again, there are things you'd rather not be sharing with this unknown quality just yet, aren't there?>(truth, if not quite all of it) I work for CIX and solving mysteries is my job. That this one involves bringing some joy to those still living, that's a neat bonus in itself.>(ridiculous but true) There's several sinister conspiracies going on in this area and solving this case could let me get a handle with at least one of them.>(suspicious, even if true) I'm literally just doing it out of goodness of my heart.>(lie) I'm going to get paid in tech and eezo from the family vault.>(technically true, if dishonest) I'm going to get paid in valuable antiques.>other responseHopefully your response will reassure her enough to secure your cooperation. In that case, you're going to want to know more about...>Where and when Marc was when last she saw him?>Did she meet Rita after she set out looking for Marc?>What did she talk with Marc about when the picture Amelia gave you was taken?>What was her relationship with Marc, Rita and between the two of them?>other questions?
>>4230386>(ridiculous but true) There's several sinister conspiracies going on in this area and solving this case could let me get a handle with at least one of them... or a new one with tangential relation.>(suspicious, even if true) I'm literally just doing it out of goodness of my heart.We're trying to keep the galaxy in a better state than it was because we're a good person.>What was her relationship with Marc, Rita and between the two of them?>Where and when Marc was when last she saw him?
>>4230386>(ridiculous but true) There's several sinister conspiracies going on in this area and solving this case could let me get a handle with at least one of them.tell her that an increasingly anti-extraterrestrial sentiment is being restored around that area, and the grief of Mark's mother is contributing to that, the fact that Marc and her were photographed before he disappeared didn't help that tooWe just don't want to see shady people taking advantage of someone else's grief, not after all that happened between everyone in the galaxy>What did she talk with Marc about when the picture Amelia gave you was taken?>What was her relationship with Marc, Rita and between the two of them?the others too but let's ask these first
>>4230386>(ridiculous but true) There's several sinister conspiracies going on in this area and solving this case could let me get a handle with at least one of them.>(suspicious, even if true) I'm literally just doing it out of goodness of my heart.>Where and when Marc was when last she saw him?>What did she talk with Marc about when the picture Amelia gave you was taken?
If you were going to win her cooperation you first need to get her to trust you, and although the truth may seem unlikely, especially to someone jaded enough, you know you wouldn't be able to deliver a fabrication, even if it was more credible, in a more convincing matter.That, and you admittedly do feel a little bit of pride in what you're doing."Miss Miran. I'm sure you have felt it on your own skin that some degree of xenophobic sentiment is making rounds in this region.""That's normal. Any society whose makeup undergoes a rapid and forced shift will naturally lash out against the abrupt change." Feria reacts."Maybe that's part of it, but in this case the sentiment is deliberately stoked. I've personally witnessed a manipulated rally. I can show you recording, even." She frowns at that but before she can interrupt you carry on, hoping to get the point across. "Someone is actively working here to create conflict between humans and other coalition races. I'm not yet sure who exactly or what their end goal is - but if there is a way for me to thwart this, I'll happily do it for free."You make a pause for emphasis."What does this have to do with Marc, Rita and... Marc and Rita?" The Asari picks up."As you mentioned before, madame Blanc is quite popular and she is convinced the blame lies with... the Aliens." You say diplomatically."The dumb hag thinks I've seduced Marc." She realizes. "And what, 'removed' Rita? Bah." She composes herself."She's struck with grief and looking for someone to burden with blame. Natural reaction, is it not?" Feria grimaces at that. "Miss Miran," You go on. "You asked me why I'm getting involved. I was in the faux N7 corps, as were you and your friends. I have seen every single sapient species in known galaxy rally under a single cause. I have seen Turians and Krogan, Geth and the quarians, pirates and navy officers fight side by side and bleed for each other. The sun itself will freeze over before I allow something as small, petty and selfish as politics or thirst for power to unmake the only singular good thing that the Reapers ignited in the galaxy."Maybe you allowed yourself to get a little carried away towards the end because Feria is looking at you wide eyed with no immediate retort.You let go of some of the built up tension as you relax your stance and allow the Asari to judge your motives.
"So, you're one of those." She says after a while. You give her a questioning look. "Delusional people. Reapers are gone, deal with it. Everyone has their own problems that will be coming up. You think otherwise, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.""Maybe so. But that doesn't mean I have to give up, or can in good conscience stand back and do nothing.""Yeah, whatever. Suit yourself." She shrugs. Still, it appears you at least managed to bring your conviction across."In the meantime, will you please tell me what happened with your friends?"Feria sighs. "Alright, I suppose. If Gorax sent you my way I guess he must've seen something in you at least." She locks eyes with yours. "I don't know where they are now, I didn't get roped in Marc's personal business. But I'll tell you what little I do know."She falls silent for a moment to compose her answer."Alright, I suppose it all started when I was telling Marc about the Wilds and the community that's forming here. You see, when the first settlers made their way here there was still a very real risk that Alliance goons will round them up and place them into the container camps, probably ones with more guards in them. Fortunately the Asari commander here didn't want to seem confrontational and got the authorities to tolerate the growing squat. When the news got out of this arrangement the settlement grew quickly. Over few days it attracted a lot of people who wanted to live in peace from the Alliance and other military types telling them how to live or pestering them with bureaucracy. You simply claim a piece of land nobody's using and you can make what you are able to out of it to your preferences...""Miss Miran..." You speak up when you get the feeling this is getting nowhere fast."Sheesh, calm down. I was getting to the relevant part. Uh, where was I... Right!" She clears her throat. "So, all kind of people gathered here, and some of them got this idea of using this spirit of freedom that brought them here as a sort of symbol to rally around. Something to remind us of what's important, that being able to pursue your own happiness was not just something you should expect from life, but a principle worth respecting and protecting. And that's why the first settlers began to treat this place a sa community, gave it the name - the Wilds - and painted it as a center of resistance against the powers that be."
"Are you referring to the 'Resistance' posters displayed throughout the area?" Eve asks."That's right, dolly.""Her name's Eve." You say automatically. Feria frowns momentarily, as if to get into an argument, but then thinks better of it and sags a little."Uh... right, okay, fine. I just... don't like when people spy on me." She says, looking to the side. Then she looks up again. "Anyway, do you want me to talk, or not?" She challenges before continuing. "Okay, so these foils were not actually new. We didn't really have fabber time to spend on this but someone found stacks of some pre-Reaper movement's material and used our omnitools to update them.""And you showed one of them to Marc?" You speculate."That's the thing I was building up for. He was the one who brought them up. Apparently he saw one on a wall and tore it down because, imagine that, he recognized the handwriting!""What?""Yeah, that's what I thought. But I don't think I've seen him so determined before, except maybe when he got separated from Rita on deployment. He had me tell him all I knew about the settlers and this poster program. Even asked me to snoop around a bit. Which I did, because frankly I owed him my ass a few times over." Feria pauses, as if hesitating. Then she continues. "Three days ago I met with him in the Blue zone and told him what I found. About the group that got together to restart this 'Resistance' thing. He asked specifically about one girl - and as it turns out, she was among them! I told him what little I knew of the group - that they were also the ones who were behind erecting that Thing thing, that they split up afterwards because their ideas were not quite in line with each other. Well, he didn't really care about most of them, only that girl." Feria falls silent."So, what happened to her?""She vanished."
Wonderful."And you have no idea where? How? Marc must have, if he went after her."Feria sighs. "Yeah, he wasn't thrilled either. But all I knew was that she went neither with the cappies nor the syndies. Both of them were too... antagonistic, I guess? I didn't really get to interact with her, but from what I heard she seemed like the kind of person that would want everyone to sit together around a bonfire and sing happy songs in defiance of the cold, uncaring universe. Now that I think of it, I think you'd like her.""Well, that's nice but not very helpful as a clue." You mutter. "Was that the last time you have seen Marc?""Yeah.""What about Rita?""Didn't meet her since the victory parties."Well that didn't look good. Although if Rita was missing too, it would suggest she at some picked up Marc's trail... assuming her disappearance is linked to his at all, which didn't necessarily have to be the case..."And did Marc talk to you about anything else? Clearly he must have picked up some clue to pursue." You backtrack a bit."Hmm." Feria muses. Then she snaps her fingers. "Of course! Those cultist creepers!""The Ù̶̞̊̈́n̶̬̙̈́̏͘í̸̹̪t̶͉͛̀y sect?" You ask. When you pronounce the name, you feel something stir at the back of your mind. You shake your head, probably just thrill at having your gut instinct validated."The very one. You've seen them around?""They... attracted our attention." You say."Of course. They do kinda stand out. They look and talk like zombies. I tell you, if that's what 'unity' feels like, I'll have no part in it." Feria shudders.Surely it can't be that bad..."Anyway," the Asari continues. "yeah, I mentioned those among other groups that I could not approach to confirm or deny what happened with that girl Marc was obsessed with.""There were others?""Yeah. Let's see... There's the information mafia, obviously. With amount of information trade I'd be surprised if Shadow Broker didn't have feelers in this area. But they operate pretty much anywhere as far as I can tell. Then there's the Volus cabal...""Volus?" You ask. You don't think you've seen one in a while. Obviously there were some around, both in the Guild and the coalition fleet, but there was so few of them that they presumably stuck together on some of the Turian outposts."Yeah, the other day a guy posted some pretty well thought out theories about Volus cabal organizing unrest while they bide their time...""Alright, were there any others?""Well, the cult I already mentioned and of course there's the oxy-morons."
"Oxy-morons?""Alliance intelligence. They wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't monitor this place. After all, it is a direct challenge to the hegemony.""I see. So those are groups you... couldn't gather more information on, for Marc, then?""Yeah. And... I'm afraid that's it."You consider your options. You had several threads to pursue now, most of which looked very dubious, though even the most likely suspects were not indicted enough that the truth could not have been even elsewhere entirely. For instance, the girl could have simply left, and Marc and Rita after her."That girl, do you know her name? What she looks like?""No picture, I'm afraid. But Marc referred to her as Klara Stein. She was shorter than me. Short blonde hair. Blue eyes. Modest tits. Tight ass." Feria lists while illustrating the shape with her hands for emphasis."Thank you for the graphic description." You say."Rita was prettier if you ask me. Taller, more statuesque.""Thank you""I thought you wanted information.""And I am grateful for any that will help me find them..." You say as you return back to deciding which lead to follow...>Back to the warehouse. You've got time enough to scout it out before the dawn - and at this point you're more or less certain you'll find something interesting in there.>Actually, what are the tenets of this "Ù̶̞̊̈́n̶̬̙̈́̏͘í̸̹̪t̶͉͛̀y̸̗̖̌̓̀" thing? Maybe you could walk in through the front door...>You're not entirely convinced yet... Feria mentioned the information mafia. Even if they are not involved directly, maybe they might know something? Then again, approaching one may cost you time that Marc and Rita don't have...>I bet the Volus did it.>Maybe you could talk about this matter with someone? Graves or Libella may be able to tell you more... then again, once you get either involved, the matter may be quickly taken out of your hands.>other course of action
As you mull over your options the Asari speaks up."Look, uh..." She hesitates. "Drat. I don't even know your name.""Henri Ford. Sorry about that.""Okay. Ford. I'd like to help. I guess I didn't want to intrude into their personal business, but maybe they really are in trouble."You consider the offer. On one hand, as a Guild member she is a formidable fighter in case you've gotten into a scuffle. Furthermore, she is familiar with the area and the community and could maybe help you deal with locals as one of their own.On the other hand, by the same token she could be a known factor to local factions. Not everyone is bound to like her and her connection to Mark (and Rita?) might tip their captors(?) off. Furthermore, her personality could force you into unnecessary fights in the first place and force your hands before you can attempt a more diplomatic approach...>Welcome aboard.>No, sorry, you seem a bit of a loose cannon and I might want to try subtle approach... >No, sorry, you are too easily recognizable.>No, sorry. I'd rather not have someone I hardly know at my back.>other reply
>>4231685>Back to the warehouse. You've got time enough to scout it out before the dawn - and at this point, you're more or less certain you'll find something interesting in there.that "they can't be that bad" made me shudder, it's that frozen moon all over againlol at the "volus did it" too>other reply"If there's anything you can do to help, I'd appreciate it, I'm going to check on the Unity, so anything you know about them and their warehouse that could help me get in there and have a look would be good.ask if she knows any recent convert, someone who was not zombie-like like she said but turned into one after it.
>>4231685>Welcome aboard.Supporting >>4231697We should tell her that we're trying to ruffle as few feathers as possible, considering recent xenophobic events.We'll look into this Unity cult, but not through the front door if at all possible. We don't need to face another possible mind control scenario without knowing more about the situation.
Breaking into religious structures is 70% of what we probably do as an archeologists, they are usually deserted and falling apart due to the relentless passage of time but still...
>>4231866Checked, but unfortunately probably wrong. Most of the time it's looking through ancient trash heaps and occasionally graves, but sometimes (rarely) there's some religious significance. Who knows though, maybe we're spehss Indiana Jones. -t. an actual archaeologist
After some deliberation you speak up. "I think there's no point in beating around the bush. I intend to take a good look into that cultist compound - based on what we've learned so far it seems like the place we're looking for." You look Feria in the eye. "I will appreciate any help I can get. Is there anything you could tell me about this... Ų̵͎͔͂̇̔n̵̜͆ȉ̷͔̔̕t̸́̽̈͜y?"She looks away. "I'm afraid I can't tell you much. Something about them creeps me out more than Collector bugs did. It's... like they have no individuality of their own anymore. Always speaking in monotone, always praising their 'unity' -"Seems like they're ha- no, actually that sounds messed up. You pause for a moment. Did you really think that?"-opium for the masses, except that there's nothing inherently wrong with some well informed personal usage in moderation but that's something completely different to what people like these are doing - uh, are you still listening?""Hm? Oh, yes of course. You don't like them." You say, shaking off the strange sensation for now. "Very well, in any event you already helped us plenty with your information." You tell her, to which she responds with a weak smile. "So, what's the plan, then? Are we going to do some justifiable breaking and entering?" She asks."That's right. However..." You hesitate. "I'm going to try and infiltrate the place quietly. If there are prisoners in that compound, their captors may be tempted to execute them if it's compromised, or use them as hostages. In fact, it would be best if we could avoid any confrontation entirely, since any escalation is likely to play into hands of whoever is stoking the flames here.""Gotcha. We're going quiet.""Alright, then. Make what preparations you need and meet us... here, in one hour's time." You bring up the automap on your omnitool and indicate a spot slightly off the warehouse.""We're not going straight over together?"You shake your head. "I'd like to scout the area a bit, and our group could be too conspicuous on our approach.""Gotcha. See you there, then."With that you exchange contact information, courtesy nods and then you and Eve depart, navigating the dark alleys of the Wilds towards the Warehouse.As the night swallows you, you ponder on what the best approach would be to deal with this... Ų̵͎͔͂̇̔n̵̜͆ȉ̷͔̔̕t̸́̽̈͜y cult.> Do as you said and budget enough time to scouting possible entry points. The darkness will make it a bit more difficult for you, but not for Eve and Lea can help by looking at the maps.> Discuss something with one or more of your companions or allies (specify)> Something is not right. Focus inwards and examine this strange sensation the notion of 'Unity' seems to provoke. Best do it now while you're not running the risk of confronting the cultists. > Maybe you could consider j̸͈̠͍̐͆̌̕ͅo̵̢̜̞͘͜ĭ̷̩͈̔̎n̸̻̞̹̱̒̌̽̃̄i̵͓̺̯͇͆n̵̘͊̎ͅg̸͍̖̪͉̋͜?
>>4232816> Something is not right. Focus inwards and examine this strange sensation the notion of 'Unity' seems to provoke. Best do it now while you're not running the risk of confronting the cultists.> Discuss something with one or more of your companions or allies (specify)Lea was likely not exposed as we were, talk to her that we are sensing some very....familiar feelings from this thing....feelings we all would rather have forgotten by now
>>4232816> Something is not right. Focus inwards and examine this strange sensation the notion of 'Unity' seems to provoke. Best do it now while you're not running the risk of confronting the cultists. > Discuss something with one or more of your companions or allies (specify)Discuss emergency measures for if there's another... "Pearl of Wisdom" about. If it does remind us of that feeling, maybe request an alliance unit be prepped and on standby?
>>4233012about that alliance thing.....we are in the middle of this anarco community that kinda despises them, and our new Allie is not a fan either
>>4233027Then who do we call? The Krogan? The Quarians? Maybe Libella, but she's probably not close, and we might not get any help...Hey Wanderer, is there an, asari outpost nearby?
>>4233044Asari outpost is within walking distance. It's where you left your skycar with Lea, and as far as you know it's where Libella currently resides. There is also an Alliance garrison nearby to support local authorities.
>>4232816> Something is not right. Focus inwards and examine this strange sensation the notion of 'Unity' seems to provoke. Best do it now while you're not running the risk of confronting the cultists.> Discuss something with one or more of your companions or allies (specify)Discuss with Eve and Lea this weird thing, like the pearl of wisdom the other anon mentioned.>>4233044Our backup could be Lea and the new asari if they aren't affected, or maybe Eve if she is not too.I'd rather not involve anyone else since this could be that uber secret thing that Admiral Hackett asked us to keep quiet about, the Leviatan's devices.
>>4233105>>4233044How about we set up a "killswitch"? But rather a pabic button to fire up a message to Libella and to the Alliance in case we feel we are loosing it
Making your way through the night you can't help but be bothered by this strange sensation you keep experiencing whenever that strange cult comes up. With growing dread you begin to wonder if Hackett's information about Earth not having any of those mind-controlling spheres on it was accurate.The alternative would be that you're growing mad, which was not reassuring either."Lea, are you with us?" You ask into the comm."Always, cap." Comes the reply."Good, please, pay attention. I need to figure something out..." You let the sentence hang for a few seconds, unsure how to formulate your concern."I'm all ears." Lea takes that as a prompt. You decide that it's probably for the best - at least she'll make her own judgement.Now, to test your hypothesis - on Enceladus the three of you were moving together and all three were affected. That means, if there was another of those artifacts nearby, Eve should be exposed to it as much as you, Lea less so or not at all."Eve," You address your companion. "do you have any... strange feelings?"She looks at you with a worried expression."You mean, as in inexplicable, consistently topical, recurring patterns emerging at front of my consciousness?""Not in so many words, but yes.""Meta-analytical process I set up following the encounter is not raising any alerts..." She makes a pause. "...and now that I've ran some permutations of the scan with historical sampling, no, I do not notice anything similar. Do you?"You grimace. "Yeah, well... not entirely. It feels different.""And you believe it is linked to the cult we are about to investigate?""Yes. Does it show?""Now that I have the context, I did notice minute physiological signs whenever the U̸͚̳͆n̴͙͌̉͑i̷͊ͅt̴̳̖̺̒̈̈́y̴̟͈̕ cult is referenced."She's right. You feel it again. Although now that you're aware of it..."Lea?" You turn to the comlink. "You got anything?""You mean any weird urges?" The Quarian replies. "No, cap. None of that does anything for me." She hesitates. "Maybe we should call this thing off? You could get examined by Alliance experts..."You bite your lip. That might be for the best, but what would such delay mean for Marc, Rita and perhaps Klara as well? And what would it mean for other people in the area?Come to think of it, why are you the only one affected?"Not yet, I want to try something. Eve, Can you do it again?"
"U̸͚̳͆n̴͙͌̉͑i̷͊ͅt̴̳̖̺̒̈̈́y̴̟͈̕." She says. "U̸͚̳͆n̴͙͌̉͑i̷͊ͅt̴̳̖̺̒̈̈́y̴̟͈̕ cult. Joining the U̸͚̳͆n̴͙͌̉͑i̷͊ͅt̴̳̖̺̒̈̈́y̴̟͈̕. Embracing the U̸͚̳͆n̴͙͌̉͑i̷͊ͅt̴̳̖̺̒̈̈́y̴̟͈̕.." She adds some spin to it, too.This time you are prepared. When the sensation appears, you push against it. It goes away, then reappears. You chase that again, too, and suppress it.Is it just you, or are those compulsions growing-Suddenly you are struck with headache. It's not quite as bad as when you once allowed Kris to talk you into trying some proper alcohol, but it's enough for you to miss your step and stumble a bit. Eve reaches out to help you steady yourself.The headache subsides, but it leaves your head swimming and nausea sets in. You drop on your knees and vomit. You are vaguely aware of a clump of viscous slime on the ground before you, Eve dragging you back, hum of her omnitool and chill of her cryogenic module. Lea and Eve speaking your name, asking..."Ford, how do you feel? Talk to me, please."Finally you manage to snap out of it and back into the now. That was Eve just now."What... the fuck was that?" You croak."It seems you... expelled something." Eve states. "This matter looked inconsistent with what human vomit should contain. I made attempt to contain it by freezing.""Good thinking." You say, voice still hoarse as you reach for a water bottle from your kit."Cap, are you alright? What happened? Your readings were kinda all over the place for a moment." Lea asks."I was trying to... examine that strange sensation that always appeared when the Unity came up. I tried to fight it back, suppress it, and it seemed like I was successful. And then..." You pause as realization dawns. "Wait. Eve, do it again.""Ford, I don't think-"
"Just do it, please.""Very well. Join the Unity. Embrace the Unity."You steel yourself for a reaction, prepared for more discomfort, but nothing comes. You relax slightly, but the response doesn't come."It's gone." You say with a grin. "That feeling is gone.""Does that mean this substance is... or was... connected to it?" Eve asks, looking at the slowly thawing slime. She sprays it with another freezing ray for good measure."Can't be sure at this point, obviously, but it seems so.""...I don't like this." Lea says.Neither do you, if you're honest with yourself. But the important question now was... what does that mean for your plans?>You still have some time, a mysterious, if disgusting, sample and a scanner suite on your omnitool. Analyze this.>You don't have much time and you still want to scout out the temple/warehouse, now more so than before.>This mess is getting too much for one wannabe P.I. . Notify someone of what's going on here, then go through with your plan. >This is getting above your paygrade. Call someone to clean this mess up (Alliance? Asari? Spectre? someone else?) The missing people will have to hope whoever you call will be able and willing to rescue them.And another, no less important question, was what are you going to do about this anomalous clump?>Take a sample? (Y/N) (You're confident that the sample containers you have with you should be able to safely contain it, whatever it is.)>Destroy the clump? (Y/N) (If you fiddle with settings for your cutter you should be able to reliably incinerate the thing.)
>>4233263>You still have some time, a mysterious, if disgusting, sample and a scanner suite on your omnitool. Analyze this.The question is, when did we got this in ourselves?Did Eve "eat" or "drink" anything that we did? After we scan the substance pass the data to her to see if she identifies it somewhere on her body, it probably only affects organics but maybe whoever did this tried to inoculate her too, and if we discover by what method we may discover who tried it. ?>Take a sample? (Y/N) (You're confident that the sample containers you have with you should be able to safely contain it, whatever it is.)With a sample we may figure out a way to fuck it up
>>4233283Also, don't call anyone and if we figure out how it got into us by Eve examining herself we may discover if Lea's enviromental suit protects her from it too
>>4233263>You still have some time, a mysterious, if disgusting, sample and a scanner suite on your omnitool. Analyze this.>Take a sample? (Y/N) (You're confident that the sample containers you have with you should be able to safely contain it, whatever it is.)
>>4233263>You still have some time, a mysterious, if disgusting, sample and a scanner suite on your omnitool. Analyze this.>Take a sample? (Y/N) (You're confident that the sample containers you have with you should be able to safely contain it, whatever it is.)Yes
>>4233263>You still have some time, a mysterious, if disgusting, sample and a scanner suite on your omnitool. Analyze this.>Take a sample? (Y) (You're confident that the sample containers you have with you should be able to safely contain it, whatever it is.)SCIENCE! Also, if the sample isn't the whole thing then incinerate the rest for safety reasons.
First thing you do is to seal your helmet. Perhaps it was a mistake to not be wearing it at all times, but in all fairness you had very little justification to even consider doing so on your own homeworld.Now you do.Reaching into pocket of your suit you retrieve one of the more robust containers you have for collecting samples and artifacts. It takes a few cuts with the cutting beam and some creative use of what passes for your biotics but you manage to scoop a chunk of the matter into the box. You run it over with your scanner before sealing the container shut, check the seal integrity and store the container back in a pocket. With that done you get to work on incinerating what remains of the stain. You realize you cannot be certain your omnitool actually has capacity of sanitizing the matter though, considering it apparently interacted with your tissue, you certainly hope so."Eve, Lea. You are seeing the scans of that... goop." You speak as you work. "But we also still need an idea how to access the warehouse. Do you have any ideas?""You want to go through with the intrusion? Are you feeling up to it, Ford?" Eve asks."I'm fine." You say. "More importantly, if this is related to happened to Marc and Rita... we may not have much time.""I'm on it." Lea says over the comm.A few moments later you are satisfied with how you purged the stain, though you do commit the location to your map in case the powers that be would feel need to check on it later."Alright, let's find some more private spot. I'd like to take a better look at those readings, myself."
You end up going all the way to the agreed upon meeting place which was sufficiently sheltered from views of those passing by, not that there was much traffic around at this hour. You settle against what used to be a warehouse wall and pull up the omnitool, letting the readouts scroll before your eyes.The readouts are puzzling to say the least. Not only do they not line up with anything you've recently eaten, they don't seem to have been exposed to digestive fluids... except superficially, which makes it seems as if it... materialized on your gut only moments before you expelled it."How did this stuff get in me?" You muse aloud."What did you experience?" Eve asks, to which you recount your experience - from first noticing the strange persistent thought, through attempts to fight against it to the headache and nausea that led to the expulsion. She follows up with another question: "When did it start?""Well, we did not hear of the 'Unity' before asking that cultist... Now that I think of it, there was a time I felt a bit of a headache. Although at that time I chalked that up to having to deal with such a strange person.""I recall that even then you did not consider his behaviour as anomalous as we did." Lea comments."That is first oddity I can recall as well." Eve nods. "It appears that whatever the cause, it could lie with the cult itself - and with rapid onset.""I certainly didn't eat anything here. So that leaves air... or aerosol." You say. "Except the mass doesn't seem to add up.""Given the rapid onset, the mass may have been synthesized already within you." Eve theorises."But then, how was I able to expel it? How did it go so fast from airborne... infection... to mind altering influence and into this... goop?""You know as much as I do, Ford. Interaction between alien matter and human consciousness is a phenomenon that remains relatively unexplored, despite how commonplace it is with Prothean technology." Eve shrugs.You frown and go back to scrolling through the readouts. You might have been too focused on the biochemical aspect that you neglected to take a look at more esoteric aspects. Active prothean technology, for instance, gives away faint readings in realm of dark energy, while inactive pieces often react to it. You wonder...
Nothing. The readouts are not consistent with anything Prothean related you've in your databanks, though there is only so much your field tool can do in that respect. In regards to responsiveness of the matter to dark energy you don't dare risking unsealing the container right now but you scroll back to sensor logs from the moment where you were using biotics to scoop the goop into the box..."Interesting." You mutter. "It appears there was a weak response from the matter at my biotics. The signal is too disordered to make much more of it beyond showing the interaction, though.""What does that mean?" Lea asks over the comm."I have no idea." You admit. "Well, it does mean the matter is somehow responsive to dark energy flows that occur when living being taps into them, since I'm not seeing the same response to omnitool's mass effect fields.""Maybe that's how you were able to purge the thing. By thinking really hard about it." Lea offers.You frown. This was kind of a leap in reasoning, especially considering you were not aware of accessing your biotics when fighting against the compulsion. But then again, the nature of the mind control was still a blank space for you. Perhaps you could approach the authorities once you confirm that the people you were looking for were safe. And speaking of ensuring safety of those under your care..."Eve, if this is result of my interaction with the cultist, you were there as well. Shouldn't you also have been exposed?" You turn to the gynoid."It appears that I have." Eve says."What?""I've just finished analyzing internal diagnostics. I have registered heightened intake of dust particles during our interaction with the cultist. The particles are intert and have not tripped any of my alarms, but their amount was unusual for given environment. I suspect some of them may be spores or other dormant vessel. They have since remained in my filters.""Is it safe for you to have them in?""It appears I do not register as valid host. Yes, they should be safe, and can be later extracted for analysis."
"Hey guys. You ready to rumble?" Feria announces her arrival, bringing your little brainstorming session to an end. "What's with the helmet?" she asks when she notices yours."We will be needing them. It appears they're using some sort of biological agent to subdue people.""I fucking knew it!" The Asari says, activating seals on her headgear. "Wait, what about her?" She indicates Eve. It takes you a few moments to order your thoughts on the matter before you respond:"She doesn't need protection, you know that.""Actually, miss Miran makes a good point." Eve says. "If I go in in my current disguise while both of you have helmets on, it may raise suspicions.""Hmm, now that I think of it, it could also be an opportunity..." Feria says. "I mean, they can't fuck your mind, but they don't necessarily know that, right?""You're suggesting..." You rub your chin. "Hmm... that could work... but only if the cultist have no way to discern between genuinely brainwashed and someone who's only pretending. It could be risky.""Well, this is your show. But if you want to do it tonight, better get a move on." Feria urges, and you comply by reviewing your options..."Lea, you got something?""I do! A few somethings, even. Sent them to your map.">Let's take the skylight. Simplest, but may be exposed if there's someone halfway vigilant inside.>There's a cargo port on the other side of the structure than the cultist dwellings. It has likely been sealed, but that can be remedied...>You said something about strange air intakes nearby that don't seem to belong to anything? This warrants investigation.>Screw it, let's go loud. We'd alert the cultists right away, but that warehouse doesn't look too big. How hard can it be to search it?>Let's try the willing convert approach... for Eve, of course.>Eve could also try and sneak through the dwellings with aid of Tactical Cloak. Although things could get dicey if the cloak drops while she's in the open...>other ideas?
>>4237026>You said something about strange air intakes nearby that don't seem to belong to anything? This warrants investigation.while Eve>Let's try the willing convert approach... for Eve, of course.if things get dangerous for her we go loud and break her out of there
>>4237121Splitting the party is a valid option, but a word of caution: picking two separate (potential) entry points may leave you too far apart to provide assistance quickly.
>>4237602okscracth thatlet's do this first>You said something about strange air intakes nearby that don't seem to belong to anything? This warrants investigation.
>>4237026>You said something about strange air intakes nearby that don't seem to belong to anything? This warrants investigation.
>>4237026>There's a cargo port on the other side of the structure than the cultist dwellings. It has likely been sealed, but that can be remedied...
Looking over the possible options you see two fairly conservative approaches that could work... although if the warehouse now served as some sort of temple, using them could well expose you to discovery as soon as they were taken. The deception Feria raised possibility of could also work, but one sort of out of the way highlighted spot on the map attracts your attention. A small structure with a disproportionately large piece of air condition machinery built into it."What's this? An air intake, you think?""That's what it looks like on the images, cap." Lea replies."It's some distance off the warehouse. What makes you think it's connected?""Here's the thing. In the files Eve dug up there's some schematics of "So, you think there's more to this warehouse than meets the eye. Most of it below ground.""Yep!""Good catch." You nod and look at Eve and Feria. "Let's check it out."The three of you arrive at the suspicious installation in short order. In fairness, what looked sort of out of place from the bird's view on the minimap when Lea pointed it out, from the ground level the small building did a decent job of blending in between other industrial structures that surrounded it from all sides - although, notably, the warehouse that used to be positioned between the structure and your objective has been partially taken apart to yield place and material for the growth of cultist dwellings.Returning attention back to the potential access point you were faced with solid door with a security lock that at a glance gave impression of standard corporate security, that is to say quite a robust one though nothing you haven't bypassed before. However, as you approach to make an attempt, Eve stops you."Ford, wait." She says. "Signature of this lock does not line up exactly with the models I know. It appears to be custom made."Wordlessly you step aside and indicate for the gynoid to handle the matter."It is as I feared." She says, her omnitool alight. "The lock was made to mimic a stock model but it has countermeasures in place for known bypass methods. Attempting those would put the structure on alert.""Huh." You say. Well, it made sense to put some extra measures for what appeared to be a clandestine infrastructure access. This served to support Lea's intuition in sending you here and raised question at what this place was before the Reapers."So, how did you learn about those countermeasures, you tripped them or...?" Feria asks. And then the door slides open."No, fortunately I found them from the system side." Eve says."Neat." The Asari inclines her head.
Inside of the structure the most obvious features are three large cylinders that lead from below floor to the air ports visible from above. Weak, soft thrum and barely perceptible vibrations betray that some volume of air is propelled through. They all have access ports large enough for - presumably - service drones, though you are fairly certain all of you could fit through without much trouble. Other than that looking around reveals a locker with maintenance tools, a work bench, several crates' worth of spare parts, a foil clipboard with signed maintenance records and a hatch in the ground secured with another electronic lock.Without being prompted Eve approaches the lock and opens it, perhaps slightly faster than the previous one."Learned anything new?" You ask."Unfortunately not. These locks don't seem connected to any infrastructure to speak of, except for signals indicating a breach. There is nothing I could use to access whatever system they are sending the signal to.""Any other surveillance?" You look around but can't spot anything."I have not spotted any cameras." The gynoid says. "However, I expect there will be sensors monitoring the air ducts."Ah yes, the air ducts."Any idea where these lead?" You ask, approaching an access panels to one of the cylinders. These ones don't seem to have a security lock - whoever designed the place apparently felt that another layer of that would be unnecessary. The panels move aside easily and Eve is quickly next to you, leaning into the darkness below."There is a bend down there, leading in approximate direction of the target warehouse."Excellent! Lea, you hear that? Good job!""Aye aye, cap!" comes from the comms."Alright, so what's the plan now?" Feria asks, darting with eyes between you and the ducts."Well, the hatch seems like an obvious access point." You think aloud. "It could be a maintenance tunnel, or maybe an emergency exit. Possibly both. The ducts seem big enough to navigate and the air system probably leads through most of whatever it is intended for, but aside from the infrastructure elements I'm not sure how sneaky we could be in them.""One of those ducts appears to be intake, the other is exhaust." Eve informs. "I am unable to ascertain purpose of the third duct." She says, leaning into the incriminated element. "There is no draft, suggesting the duct is currently inactive. Inside of the conduit appears to be lined with some machinery of unknown purpose.""Alright, so what's the plan now?" Feria repeats, looking at you.>Let's take the hatch. It appears to lead to a maintenance access tunnel and should be guaranteed to take you somewhere.>Let's take one of the air ducts. Potentially granting more freedom of movement, if you can get past all the fans...>Let's take the third duct. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?>other course of action
>>4245239>Let's take the third duct. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?Writen like that, how could I not chose it?
>>4245239>Let's take the hatch. It appears to lead to a maintenance access tunnel and should be guaranteed to take you somewhere.If there’s something being spread through the air I don’t think moving through the ducts will be wise.
>>4245239>Let's take the hatch. It appears to lead to a maintenance access tunnel and should be guaranteed to take you somewhere.
>>4245239>Let's take the third duct. I mean, what's the worst that could happen?This is the only thing out of place here, so I think it's the one with the greater probability of yealding an interesting result
>>4245239>Let's take the hatch. It appears to lead to a maintenance access tunnel and should be guaranteed to take you somewhere.That third vent might be the spreading mechanism.
The choice seems readily apparent as your focus gravitates towards the access hatch. It was after all intended for the purpose and was virtually guaranteed to allow safe passage, even if you had to be on lookout for surveillance and intruder countermeasures. Even so, the mysterious duct tempts you briefly. It was very likely the shortest way to heart of this installation and looked dormant enough - assuming you did not do anything to alert the cultists, chances were it would stay that way.You shake the sensation off after some consideration, though. For all you knew it could be linked to the mind controlling substance you must have ingested, or some other kind of deathtrap. In presence of other options there was no reason to take the most risky one."Eve. Can you open that?" You ask they gynoid, pointing at the hatch."Certainly, give me a moment..."The synthetic woman spends several seconds interacting with the holographic lock resting on the hatch before it turns green and the cover moves away, revealing a narrow stairway the three of you take with you at point and Feria in the rear. The Asari whistles as you reach the bottom of the stairway, emerging into a long corridor. "Nice getup your spooks have here." She says. "I don't imagine the freaks dug this out over last week."You offer no comment as you look around. The corridor is barely wide enough for two people to walk abreast, dimly lit monochromatic emergency light, only slightly above bare minimum required to make out contours of the cables running along the floor and roof and occasional access ports in the walls. Opening one reveals inactive, but undamaged electronics and fuses attached to more infrastructure hidden behind the wall."Any chance of figuring what these are for?" You ask silently."Only if we power them up, and that may not go unnoticed." Eve says.You only make a few steps before a shape of a doorway emerges to your right. Cursory inspection reveals no mechanism for unlocking it, holographic or mechanical. You look at Eve, but only thing she offers back is a shrug."I can perform a more active scan for electronic access points in standby mode but that will reveal our presence to anyone looking."You decide to shelve that idea for now and move on. After a brief walk the gynoid speaks up: "We should now find ourselves below the cultist warehouse."Not long after you notice another door frame in the wall, also without obvious means of opening it. This time you don't bother asking and simply move forward, interested in how far this rabbit hole leads. It does not take long - maybe about once again as much time as it took you to reach this point - until end of the corridor can be made out in the gloom - it ends in the kind of door you've gotten used to when passing through industrial sectors of colonies - robust, nondescript and fortunately with controls powered.Unwilling to take chances you step aside and let Eve access them before you.
"Clear." She says as the door opens, allowing you to step through onto a platform overlooking what appears to be a machine room. It is lit by the same low-consumption emergency lights the corridor was and most of the machinery you can see appears undamaged yet inert, with one exception - a sole power aggregate under the far side of the wall appears to be operating, the control consoles near it adding a golden tint to the otherwise all encompassing gloom.Looking up and ahead you take in the air conditioning and filtration machinery suspended on a solid framework below the ceiling, made accessible by another platform going around it. Had you taken one of the two ducts you might have come out there had you followed the system all the way through. Here too you can make out a few blinking controls, confirming that the machinery is, at least in some minimal capacity, operational.As your inquisitive gaze makes its way down back to the floor you spot a caged chamber filled with shelves and crates - likely storehouse for spare parts and maintenance material.Another piece of machinery the purpose of which you feel confident recognizing is a water filtration system. You can't make out any active controls to tell whether or not it is working.Concluding your observation you find this part of the facility to be deserted."Underground bunker with big source of power and dedicated life support. What do you think was going on here?" Feria asks. "It's got to be the spooks. Hidden brainwashing facility? Bioweapon research lab? Social experiment monitoring site? There's no way authorities wouldn't know of a facility this big right in the middle of a city.""We haven't seen much of it yet." You point out. "Eve, can you make anything out of the working electronics here?""Trying to interface at this range would be conspicuous. Let us approach."With that the three of you navigate the platform and down a few flights of stairs..."What the fuck is that?" Feria asks, pointing down. Following her finger you spot several thin vines twisting around rungs and through the grates at the edge of the staircase you're taking. They seem to stretch from the ground level and go up the stairs and along the other platforms you've seen that allow access to the air condition machinery."Looks organic alright." You say, crouching down to analyze the growth. "Can't see any movement... however there is a very weak energy current running through." You stand up."I have a bad feeling about this." Feria remarks.
A thought occurs to you. "Eve, are you still transmitting to Lea?""I've gone quiet to not trigger any internal sensors. I estimate that a comm burst would reach her if we need her support.""Alright. Let's keep that in reserve." You turn your attention back to the strange growth. "Whathever this is, it seems Exogeni had a containment failure. We better be careful. Let's get you to the terminal.""This place is Exogeni's?" Feria asks. "Go figure. Bloody corps running the show. Someone needs to put them in their place."You get moving again, taking care to look out for the suspicious vines on the floor. When you reach bottom of the chamber you note that there's more of the vines laid out, running to various pieces of machinery and some tendrils seem to have begun snaking their way up the walls. Visually following source of the vines you spot they are concentrating and merging near a doorway you didn't see from your previous vantage point leading into next section of the compound - it appears to be stuck open and the other side of it better illuminated than the machine room. "Ford, I've accessed local systems." Eve informs you, standing over the power station's terminal you saw earlier. "It appears the installation is running at emergency silent mode characterised by minimal power expenditure and only essential functions active to preserve lives of its occupants.""Any indications at what is going on here?""I cannot access main data network while it is in this state. It should be possible if I restore the facility to full operation.""You can do that?""Yes. But it's unlikely to go unnoticed. Additionally, there are two more settings available - evacuation protocol that releases locks on escape routes, and an undocumented hidden setting that appears to drive the main facility power source to overload and explode.""Those bastards!" Feria exclaims. "Just what kind of fucked up shit were they playing at?""Any logs or memos you can find?""Only system log is available now. The silent mode has been activated shortly after the news of Reaper force arriving into the system have been made public by the Alliance. It has been running without incident ever since.""They didn't want to attract attention." You muse. "Maybe hoping they could survive if they could delay being found. But did the containment failure occur before, or after that?""What about security systems?" Feria asks."There are locks, tampering detection, several cameras and sensors." Eve replies. "They should no longer be a problem for us.""Good girl." You grin. "That should mean we can contact Lea without danger?""Yes, unless there are other independent systems monitoring the facility that are not on the grid.""Damn, I wish I had someone like you on that heist on Illium." Feria says. "Still, gotta be on lookout for freaks... and this." She waves in the direction of the alien vines. "Anyways, I guess we're getting a move on?"
>Activate the power and have Eve try to take over the system from here. This will alert anyone paying attention that something is happening in the machine room.>Don't activate the power yet, take the door and explore next section of the installation while maintaining cover.>Go back to the maintenance tunnel. Maybe you could force open one of the doors - maybe you could cut open the doors without tripping any alarms. (specify which door - under the air intake shed, or under the warehouse?)>Go back to the maintenance tunnel and trigger the evacuation alarm - this should get the door to open, but will definitely alert everyone in building to your presence (specify which door - under the air intake shed, or under the warehouse?)>Loot... er, look in the storeroom, maybe you'll find something useful there.>Other course of action (specify)
>>4250637>Don't activate the power yet, take the door and explore next section of the installation while maintaining cover.Make sure to analyze that growth and compare the results with the thibg that sas inside us
>>4250637>Loot... er, look in the storeroom, maybe you'll find something useful there.Investigation can yield both useful items, and useful information.
>>4250637>>Don't activate the power yet, take the door and explore next section of the installation while maintaining cover.keep sneaky
>>4250637Supporting >>4250669. The store room is the next priority after, since we can access it without turning the power on.
"Let's check out the storeroom first. Maybe we'll find something useful." You decide."Sounds good." Feria nods. "Stealing from a cult holed up in corp black site, that's like being paid three times in karma."You're not quite sure if that's how it works but now would not be time for such an argument so instead you just nod noncommittally and head towards the caged structure. The door opens itself as you approach and you give Eve a grateful nod before entering.Inside of the storage area looks exactly as you would expect. Rows of shelves were well stocked by a number of spare parts and components used for maintenance, wide variety of tools and safety and protective equipment, including several boxes of disposable breathing masks and a few more expensive ones utilizing nanofilters and kinetic barriers. There was an assortment of chemicals - fuel, omnigel, cleaning solutions, lubricants, paint and thinners, coils of spare cables, tubes and insulation fabric among various other supplies that might be useful for operation of the facility without incurring need of suspicious shipments to the warehouse topside.You don't see anything immediately useful for your efforts, although one item does attract your attention: at a far shelf you spotted several boxes containing a remote controlled mainetance drone. This civilian variant of the combat model specialized combat engineers conjured up with their omnitools was lower powered, unshielded, far less eezo intensive and usually outfitted with a simple manipulator and an optical sensor."Eve, Lea." You say. "Can you work with this?""Uhh... sort of." Lea answers. "I think I'll be able to work out the basic functions pretty fast, though for finer control I'll need to study the manual.""I'll take it." You say, reaching for one of the boxes and opening it."Allow me." Eve says and approaches. She reaches forward with her omnitool active and the spherical piece of machinery springs to life, hovering before you. "I can help miss Fari with the interface. Alternatively I could take control of the drone myself, but that would interfere with my stealth routines."Noted. Just patch Lea through for now." You say and look for Feria. You quickly find her stuffing her backpack with sonic screwdrivers."Very useful. And can be remodelled to other stuff if you know your shit... like toothbrushes!" She explains."Alright, let's get back to exploring." You nod. "Eve, you take the point.""Certainly." The synthetic lady says and the two of you follow her towards the doorway, taking care not to step on one of the strange vines as you went.
"I'll scout ahead." Eve says to your earpiece as you approach the illuminated exit and vanishes from plain sight before entering. You stop and signal for Feria to follow suit.The drone that was following her stays behind as well. After a few moments of waiting it begins to bob in one side, then another. You watch it as the machine goes through the various motions."Trying your control?" You ask eventually into the commlink as the machine takes position between you and Feria."Yeah. I think I've gotten the hang of it. It has rather limited field of vision."You nod. While the drone may give Lea some presence, it would not be too well suited at scouting. Although it could come in handy in narrow places, including those it was originally intended for..."By the way, I took a look at your scans of that vine. Compared it with that stuff you, erm. You know.""Yes?" You perk up."Well, the composition seems similar, though that's about as much as what I can tell you. I can't make out any patterns in the, um, sample A, to compare against.""Immediate vicinity appears clear of active hostiles." Eve puts the conversation on hold as she reappears before you."'active'?" You frown."The next section of the facility appears to have been used as habitation and common area for its inhabitants." She says. "Within the limited frame I can maintain my cloak I was only able to made some superficial scouting so I can give an estimate of layout." The image arrives to your omnitool. It appears that Eve was able to see or infer that this section is split roughly in two, one half consisting mostly of smaller habitation cells with several larger facilities, presumably for communal use - a common room, perhaps, maybe a gym and bathrooms. Then there were two elevator tubes and a staircase and a desk that might have doubled as a security checkpoint. A mess hall, several rooms that might have been offices surrounding a larger one perhaps used for meetings consisted the other half of the section. "I did not encounter any movement." Eve continues when she judges you've taken the image in. "However, the alien vines are more dense in this section. Furthermore, in areas of greatest concentration they seem to form a denser structure I've come to label a 'node'. Finally, usually arrayed near the 'nodes', there are these..."
You receive another image."Keelah..." Lea is heard over the comm."Freaky." Feria comments.On the image you see what is an unmistakably humanoid form, curled up in what might pass for fetal position, made of some sort of gray-green matter. You wonder if it's the same stuff that got into you and that was apparently in the air here and above ground... could the cultists spread this at will? How widespread was it right now? And-"Is this what happened to the people who worked here?" Lea asks."Pottery." Feria comments mirthlessly."Unknown." Eve answers. "I could not make detailed scan without compromising the cloak.""That's fine. Something tells me we're going to have enough chance to analyze them yet. For now, though...">Go explore the habitation block. Maybe there will be clues about what happened to the people here?>Go explore the office block. Hopefully there will be something there to tell you what was going on here.>Eve could make out another guarded passage at the far end of this section - that should lead to the part of the underground facility right below the air intake shed.>Return to the engineering section and try something else (options from previous prompt - activating power, forcing your way in through presumed escape tunnels...)>Meanwhile, in the Jungle... (perspective shift to Kris for the next thread)>other course of action
>>4255363>Go explore the office block. Hopefully there will be something there to tell you what was going on here.Let's try and get the lay of the land.
>>4255363>>Return to the engineering section and try something else (options from previous prompt - activating power, forcing your way in through presumed escape tunnels...)> activate power> also cum in someone's mouth for good measure
>>4255363>Go explore the office block. Hopefully there will be something there to tell you what was going on here.Not sure how much we can get without the power being on, but it's worth a look.
>>4255363>>Eve could make out another guarded passage at the far end of this section - that should lead to the part of the underground facility right below the air intake shed.