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supernal

Safeguard, Or: How I learned to love the calm

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First, they went up.

The heavy hitters were storming the front and back of the building to fend off the obvious enemy, meanwhile Gygax and Ethen were given leave to penetrate the building's inner sanctum. They met some nominal resistance along the way, the few who were left behind in a 'just in case' capacity, but these two rebel soldiers proved to be more case than any of the guards were prepared to handle.

Gygax was insistent on not complicating their criminal acts with felony murder, and Ethen's electrical abilities were well suited to this task – that's why he picked her to bring with. It was almost as if Gaia herself had smiled on him when he placed this cool-headed operator among a bus load of eccentrics.

They came to a fork in the hallway.

"We go left. The sinister path is for sinister people."

Three floors up they were moving laterally through the floor itself. They came to an office and here Gygax showed the depth of his intelligence, not his intellect but the information he'd been able to gather, by turning a spyglass to a certain angle and spinning a globe to stop at a certain point; in response to his ministrations, the wall behind the desk indented and slid to one side.

After that they went down. Down to what would have been the ground level, and then further still. After all, where else but in the bosom of the earth would someone expect a Gaianist Terran to place something they considered valuable?

But expected didn't mean insecure. The fact that Gygax scoffed to himself at Gaian predictability did not change the fact that they had to navigate through a reinforced tunnel with only one exit, to get to a room with blast-proof doors, which were opened only by a biometric measure. To this final challenge Gygax responded with a moist, vellum glove whose fingertips and palm had been superimposed with a lifted pattern. Placing his hand on the scanner opened the doors.

Inside was an empty chair and a slab of glass, behind which was a pressure sensitive, bioluminescent fungus capable of translating keystrokes and gestures on the glass into the modal signals used by the console to interpret and modify the Safeguard node. Gygax sat in the chair and put his hands on the glass, closing his eyes and calling to mind what he wanted to do before he started programming.

"Do you remember how I said I'd reveal the plan to you piecemeal, to keep any one person from compromising the whole thing? Maybe I shouldn't even bother telling you this but you brought me to the finish line, it's the least I can do.

"I'm not blowing up jack shit. I'm reprogramming the node. Corrupting the data. Removing all of the signal and filling it with noise. It'll be unusable, completely inaccurate, and they'll have to shut it down, revisit the initiative. More long-term damage than we could accomplish by just removing one node.

"So watch my back. I have work to do."

Gygax kept his back to Ethen as he started manipulating the glass console with masterful gestures, fractal patterns lighting up on the screen and splashing across his face and torso as he delved into information networks.

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30lkv8z.jpgShe wasn't all that shocked that in order to get to point B from A, that they'd have to do a little detouring here and there. When it comes to anything remotely beneficial to the well being of people, you try to play it safe and protect those benefits to the best of your abilities. You covet that little bit of wonder and vow to keep it honorable; no surprise to any, they got to their destination underground, hidden and protected. All the blood, sweat, and tears shed just for this moment now have meaning. 

Ethen watched him manipulate his way around the place like he knew what he was doing. To her, his skills are a marvel that should be acknowledged with grace. She's never been one for technology of any kind; too much to learn when time's always slipping through your careless fingers. The hours committed to learning what he's done ... she dies a little on the inside just thinking about it. While she could probably draw the information out of him, they have no connection and she's not sure if she can produce one without him noticing. 

Damn.

What to do, what to do. She touches that thing and all hell could break lose; she lets him keep going on and it won't even matter. His plan, something she hadn't considered and is now slightly overwhelmed by its reveal, will have such heavy consequences that it may take some time to fix. She understands what he says about corrupting the data, and in her limited experience with such things, this ain't good for anyone - anyone. What peace will come out of this? Does he not understand this does more harm to his plans? 

They'll shut it off, sure, but they're going to turn it back on. They're devout in their need to protect the people, and this one problem will only light a fire under their asses to make it better, make it less vulnerable to attacks such as this. That will be their revisit to the whole thing, and all this work he and his followers have done will be for naught. 

"Sure."

He would feel the length of her right forearm deeply root itself against his throat. Naturally he would struggle against her, and because he is a man of strength, Ethen is forced to protect herself against his hectic maneuvers. Right arm holding in place and her left arm bent at the elbow, she pressed the back of his head with her left hand; a rear naked choke really punctuates the fact you mean business and won't be letting go until negotiations are met. She hugged him close to her chest, using the chair he sat in to bend him backwards into her tight hold. 

Like a noose, her hold got tighter and tighter the more he struggled against her. Then he'd feel the warmth of her touch cripple his nerves and sweep the world underneath his flailing feet. A full charge of electricity is forced into Gygax's body, completely debilitating him. 

For a few minutes she held him in her arms, looking over the screen and wondering how far he got into his games. Satisfied that he wasn't breathing and she was safe from any random attack from him, she placed his body on the floor and took a deep breath of stale air. Gygax is only one obstacle, there are so many like him, this won't be the last of many attacks to come. Ethen looked again at the screen, this time a frown seeding itself in the sour expression - what to do. 

Stepping over his person, she began to rummage through a drawer, hoping that the years of technological advancement hasn't left behind the uses of paper and pen. She released the air in her lungs, a thankful appreciation for the nearly empty pen tangled in the mess of paperclips and rubberbands. Afterwards she found a piece of paper that had been used for notes; tearing away the unnecessary parts, she used the free room to write down the happenings of the day. 

Afterwards, she grabbed the man and began the odious trek back to the world above - halfway at least. She made it safely to the office they had snuck out of, where the wall just did a little slide to the left, revealing the hidden tunnel. There is where she bound up his body using whatever she could find in the office, and pinned the note to his chest. Stepping back she admired her handy work; shoulders and lower back aching from heaving his body around like a sack of potatoes. 

Edited by Aleksei

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Ethen has knocked Gygax out and left him as a trussed up present for any guard still on patrol. Unfortunately all of the guards were currently engaged with defending against a two-pronged attack at the front and back of the building. The silent alarm had been raised and reinforcements were sure to arrive, but would they do so in time to make a difference?

Lor and Arne quickly found themselves being overwhelmed, not so much outmatched as outnumbered. The Constabulary were not educated in the finer, academic points of the arcane, or the principles which underpinned their shared reality, but they sure knew how to use magic to make someone hurt. They used their magical knowledge to augment their physical abilities, hitting harder and moving faster, and even tried to rob their enemies of sight and hearing through hexes.

Arne abandoned the fight.

The tides of battle shifted when Lor summoned a majestic phoenix, whose abrupt physical presence brought with it a tangible force; volcanic winds which pushed the guards back even as it damaged and stunned them. They would recover, but Lor was already on his way to the building.

That was the point that Ethen came back out, and was presented with a choice – she could either reveal herself as the double agent she had always been, help the guards capture Lor and the others and bring them to justice, or she could keep the ruse up a little longer, long enough for them to escape and part ways so that no one would be the wiser.

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30lkv8z.jpgThe entire day has left her exhausted. You go to a meeting expecting to be bored to death, but you stay because someone is going to say something interesting enough that you gotta argue their point - it happened. While she had expected someone to rise up and talk a big game, she had not expected to be thrust into a situation where she had to play for a large crowd. 

Slinking down the hallways made it even clearer to her how exhausted she truly is. Lazily she looked around corner, kind of made a heartfelt attempt to sneak in front of doors, and somewhat hid her steps - does it matter now? If caught she'd probably be arrested, but the note attached to Gygax would tell her whole story and as the words go: the truth will set you free. Time is just pouring out of her veins to begin with, what would another couple of hours be to her? Having a clean and clear conscious made is easier to accept incarceration, since the law works for the people and not against them.

Once outside the heat of the pandemonium hit her in the face. She stood in the doorway and watched the guards do their job, though it was clear there had been a little dip in their stronghold. Her attention snapped to Lor who was running towards the building where Gygax is tied up and a guard or two is knocked unconscious. Quickly, Ethen met him in the middle with a look of triumph painting her face. This game will have to go on a little longer. Fighting Lor isn't on her agenda for the day, yet it is scribbled somewhere on the side.

"We've got it handled! Looks like you guys did your job too, so we need to scratch wax if we wanna get outta here alive!"

She hoped she was convincing enough and Lor did not question the lack of Gygax following behind Ethen. If he did question, she would remind him what was said before about stepping over bodies and escaping on their own accord. This was a every man for himself kind of thing and they better take advantage of this lull in attacks. It was becoming increasingly obvious that their groups were wittling away, too unprepared for the guards constant pushback. 

"We have to hurry! Don't blow this for us!"

It was a warning that things were indeed taken care of and if Lor advanced he'd be the one to blame if it all went wrong. Now is the time to listen, not think, just move. Quickly she acted like a guide, abusing the disruptions to aid their cause; the guards and everyone else's attacks, the quick abandonment from those who couldn't handle the heat, they helped the two sneak away. Not every member of the three groups would make it out, but enough of them did - guess there are arrests in their future. They will not be forgotten, especially by Ethen. 

Ethen wouldn't stick around long enough for Lor to ask questions. Like a well trained assassin, she snuck back into her surroundings, melting into shadows before making a magician's exit. When she is less exhausted, clean, fed, and has a full report written and copied, she would turn herself in with all the information they'd need to capture the no good criminals.

Lor best be on his best behavior, because the shadows hide monsters with bright pink hair.  

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Full Summary

The Safeguard Act, first introduced by Induo Katamus and then reinforced by Elleren Pendecast, requires that any practicing magicians be registered to a database, their identities and abilities cataloged. As the de facto city of magic in Terrenus, many of Blairville's citizens took umbrage at this piece of legislation, viewing Safeguard as not only an impediment to the progress of the most necessary field of study, but an infringement on their individual rights.

An event has been organized. A rally. Speeches. Indignation and awareness. The rally was peaceful enough but there are always temperamental powder kegs to be found in any large enough group of people. Amidst the calls to action, the calls to reason, the calls of conspiracies involving body-snatching slugs, the Constabulary arrives to put everyone in chains. After some predictable friction, those gathered at the rally are divided into groups and the groups loaded onto prison busses to get processed at headquarters.

Disaster strikes en route. The driver pulls the bus into a strategically deserted alley and gets out of the bus to relieve himself somewhere out of sight. Before too long, those that had come to the rally with ill intentions or who had a record started instigating. Hatching a plan to get out.

Tori (one of those powder kegs) is shackled to Lor (a practicing magician with no foot in either camp), and Ethen (a supporter of the Act) have to act quickly when one of the prisoners sprouts tentacles from his esophagus and starts attacking the nearest captive. Another just like her turns her attention to Tori, as the bus is infiltrated by an organized cell of hijackers who drive the bus off a bridge and into a shallow river. Rafts are waiting for them, and are used to escape into the sewer system.

Those with strength enough to survive the crash and wits enough to claim a raft find themselves in a pool of still sewer water. There the cell reveals themselves to be part of an intricate resistance meant to strike Safeguard at its core - at a central node located at the Pavilion of the Sun, Moon and Seasons in a covert building.  

Whether for long-standing reasons or as a consequence of what was just suffered, both Lor and Tori are unequivocally on board with joining the cell. Ethen continues to support Safeguard and here sees an opportunity to subvert the cell's actions.

Gygax, the leader of the small troupe, is careful to reveal the plan only in piecemeal, bit by bit as they come to necessary portions, and splits the group into two. One part of the group will create a dangerous distraction that must be responded to by the facility's guards. The other part will strike from the rear, and gain access to the inner sanctum with the node.

Gygax and Ethen make it to the node, meanwhile Lor, Tori, and some of Gygax's men keep the guards engaged. Ethen disables Gygax partway through execution of his plan to flood the node with meaningless information, ties him up, and leaves him in the first floor to be collected by the guards, then exits the building to join her 'team'. Ethen vanishes into the city the moment that the team puts a reasonable distance between them and the guards. Within seconds of her disappearance, Gygax's men confirm that something has gone wrong.

They received a message from Gygax indicating that Ethen had betrayed them, and had detailed the entire plan, along with names and descriptions, in a written statement of which the Constabulary now had possession. He was able to execute his program on the node, thanks to the time provided by Lor and Tori, effectively making Blairville's Safeguard records useless, but now none of them were safe.

Edited by supernal

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Notable consequences

Safeguard neutralized - for now

Due to what is being deemed 'information terrorist' action, the primary database in Blairville containing Safeguard data has been cloned, corrupted and backups deemed unusable. The database contained information such as names, addresses, and in some instances descriptions of abilities and items.

Details remain obscure but The Storage Movement has been engaged to make every attempt at recovering as much data as possible, meanwhile the Military is focusing its efforts on identifying the perpetrators.

For the time being, the Safeguard legislation is being put on a temporary suspension by local government until they can be confident in the data's integrity. This has resulted in an upsurge of both legal and black market items, services, and practices of a magical nature. This is defined as any goods which are capable of mayhem and murder, which facilitate forgery and duplication, which curse or hex, or which are not registered. .

A new kind of ghoul

An attack by what is being described as tentacle-faced humanoids aboard a prison transport has gone viral. A substantial minority points to this as evidence of the fact that 'slugs from outer space' have been quietly taking humanoid bodies for their own purposes and integrating themselves into complex society. These slugs are said to have risen to power in Dougton, a primary supplier of the nation's food supply, and are even alleged to have been a member of the Golden Coalition, which first created and implemented the Safeguard Act.

Although this perspective decidedly belongs to fringe members of society, that fringe is growing, and this fundamental divide in worldview is leading to more frequent episodes of brutal violence and gang warfare. On the other side of the argument is a constituency that believes these people to be involved in a legitimate conspiracy by foreign entities passing itself off as a harmless craze in an effort to undermine Safeguard.

Aftermath

Unrelated to the events in Blairville in all but timing, the Shawnee loci has devoured the Wastelands loci in the culmination of a battle which has been waged over the last three thousand years, becoming the dominant loci in Terrenus in doing so. This is physically represented by the Shawnee glacier literally overtaking the Wastelands, transforming hundreds and hundreds of miles of desert into frozen tundra.

Magic in the newly expanded Shawnee tundra is abundant to the point of being a cause for concern. The flora and fauna which would have otherwise died out at so radical and abrupt a change are instead changed themselves. This change has also resulted in the eradication of the magical dead zone in the Dead Peaks, and a destabilization of the Dead Peaks Prison; the prisoners have overrun the guards and converted the structure into a fortified town.

Magic everywhere else in Terrenus is considerably harder to realize and maintain[1].

1: In practical terms this translates to a reduction in available power. In the MP ruleset the max potential power was capped at the destruction of a building - now it's capped at the destruction of a room.

Opportunities

This thread is one of the principal three in the Terrenus Civil War arc, and so presents a great deal of potential opportunities. The social shift thread for Blairville will cover this in more detail.

https://www.valucre.com/topic/37274-blairville-social-temperature/

Edited by supernal

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