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"THE BEAST" ▬ [Crossfaction RP Plotline]

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Journalistic and Investigation Questline
Tiny-Url Link: tinyurl.com/thebeastrp1

NEXT EVENT:
To be updated!

THE BRIEF:
▬ Broad spanning multi-part RP event-series forming around a shady conspiracy in the underbelly of Exile and Dominion society!
▬ Open to Outsiders (within reason)

_______________
_______________


Quote:
“What does a reporter do when he falls across a red-hot story that could land him and whomever he associates himself with in heaps of trouble?"

"Well, in Bael “Booker” Woodssons case, he sets his jaw, grits his teeth and digs in deep, ready to sacrifice his honor, his sanctity and his life if this thin thread can unravel the shroud the covers The Truth™; regretfully for his surroundings, he finds the (unwilling) help from a variety of friends and allies – there among the quasi-notorious FCON scouting group “The Jackdaws”, led by Sergeant Keon Baxter - to back him up when he eventually winds up in misfortune!

In his pursuit, Woodsson will come face to face with a conspiracy having rooted itself deeply in both the Dominion and the Exile upper echelon;

On the other side, Ijo Amatrix must come to terms with a though she hasn't been able to shake; her makers have over the recent months been reported to be less and less flawless than her origin stories suggested as more news of their exploits and their instability trickle down through the extranets of Dominion communications. Even worse, after being embroiled in the investigation of a recent murder, she learns of clues leading her down the same troubled road as Booker and his ilk.

A conspiracy brews out of the public's eye, and the fates of two people and their trusted compares rests in their ability to problem-solve themselves out of the mystery of “The Beast!” - will they survive their ordeal, or will this mystery be their undoing!?”

_______________
_______________


OOC Introduction

Hello there, Jabbit!

This is the official thread for the ongoing multi-part story-line, “The Beast”:


It will focus heavily on investigation, mystery solving and social engineering as a group of brave adventurers on both sides must come to terms with a conspiracy that blurs the lines of good and evil, right and wrong!

There will be a heavier focus on exposition and story-telling, but don't worry – there will be opportunities for heroics and even a smidge of combat if you're unlucky!

This will chiefly be arranged for the Jackdaws, a Scout Squadron unit led by Keon Baxter, but we intend to have reoccurring roleplayers coming in from the outside helping out! There will be a limit as to how many we can bring for each installment, and I'll make sure to ping this thread if there's any open spaces left.

Below you'll find recaps of the events the transpire and a cast of characters that have a big influence on the narrative as well as general updates!

How to Sign Up!


As this story-line will be a bit improvised, it opens up a lot of oppertunities for very different characters to join - the only criteria is that you're open to new oppertunities and is willing to suffer through a little OOC chit-chat where I get a better feel for your characters idea and what you expect to get out of joining.

Simply follow this very bare-bone process below and I will contact you as soon as possible!


Name:
Name of the character(s)/Guild that you wish to sign up with. Put In-Game name in (parenthesis) if your in-game and in-character name differs.

Description:
Just a brief description (about 200 words), or even better, a link to your character/guild profile!

Reasons for Joining:
While we can work it out once we've gone past formal OOC introductions, consider for a moment how and why your particular characters have decided to pay attention to this particular mystery.


Dramatis Personæ

Player Characters:
Quote:
NAME:
Anlini Starshard

DESCRIPTION:
Anlini Starshard is an esteemed Aurin scientist specialised in the field of xenobiology and psychology, though she has a profound interest in mathematical problems among any other kind of activity she can logically excel in.

In terms of personality, she is very conceited and willing to selfishly put herself first in most situations; she’s naturally very analytic, picking apart situations, both socially and in work, and pulling more information through that; she is also, much to her dismay, very much anxiety-ridden and prone to panic attacks in circumstances where she doesn’t feel in control or know what she’s doing, and yet, past her arrogant appearance, she can become quite the endearing and caring friend or lover if given enough time to adjust to.

Her skills include an advanced understanding of biology and psychology and her (still in training) Esper abilities, which she is slowly using to learn a form of technomancy, though most of her Esper powers are limited to mostly relieving healing magic.

AGENDA:
Anlini is more than willing to partake in any opportunity to expand her own knowledge and skills and to aid people as a secondary objective, plus she’s always keen to try and figure out a mystery just as an ability exercise.



NAME:
Nate (Nathan) Smythe

DESCRIPTION:
Nathan Smythe is a researcher working for the Coalition of Galactic Scientists – he is a wiry young man, only nineteen years old, but with a worldly view that goes beyond his young years.

He tends towards a softer disposition, generally shying away from combat favoring scientific inquiry and – when needed – careful diplomacy to diffuse any situation. His interest for scientific betterment for all puts him at odds with both factions; The Dominion for his choice of leaving them behind, and the Exiles, seeing him still coloured by his heritage.

AGENDA:
With the implication that his own organization apparently sees a use for Booker Woodsson pending a brief interview, Nathan Smythe keeps a more vigilant eye on the detective snoop, trying to ascertain where all of this is going.

-
Non Player Characters:
Quote:
NAME:
Subject Sekundus

DESCRIPTION:
Subject Sekundus has so far simply been presented as a Freebot working at the employ of Yras Nix, a now deceased chua systems administrator work in Illium; while his visage is that of a standard unit of his type – the elongated torso complemented with mechanical limbs and a single eye – his behavior has so far been shown to be wildly erratic, making him a dangerous, life threatening encounter to the unprepared.

AGENDA:
He seems infatuated with answering the question: “What is the Cardinal Cliffs?”, and has demonstrated so far that he cannot bear a lacking or faulty answer, going as far as lashing out with deadly intent towards anyone who are unable to satisfy his question.


________________

- Ijo Amatrix/Booker Woodsson
Posted Nov 3, 15 · OP · Last edited Dec 1, 15
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ONE



Months after the incident had started, the first recording pinged; pulled down from one of the more obscure message boards in the ramshackle digital mess that was an Exile internet, the first audio-log of Booker Woodsson didn't – in its first weeks of existence – pull much attention beyond the few tin-foil hat enthusiasts with a particular taste for Coalition rumors.

No-one at that time were certain if this was just a one-time thing, a muddy, rambling mess of interwoven theories and paranoid nonsense-.. or a societal wildfire.

It started undramatic – the semi-distorted voice of Booker was introduced with a measure of exasperation ironically mixed with the sort of intensity you only experience in people driven – madly driven – by a burning desire to relay their message.


wrote:
“In the process of understanding, you occasionally entertain the notion that what you're pouring days of your life to better grasp will end up as a slightly disappointing but simple concept – all the myths and mysteries are misunderstandings, all the exciting angles lead to dead ends or simple cases of coincidence, and most dramatic events often deflate into boorish cautionary tales framed around stupid or evil people doing stupid or evil things.

As a front-line journalist working for what many considers a fiercely irritating magazine, I have the questionable honor of peeling apart these veils of assumed mysticism on the regular, often finding myself faced with a world a bit more simple and a bit more messy than I'd prefer.

You would think, then, when particularly nosy people such as myself finally manage to stumble, literally bump into a topic of potential interest that stands the initial tests of inquiry and still remains brimming with unanswered questions, I would be in my own heaven.

Well...”

The recording sighs..

wrote:
“..as I look back from where I stand now, I-.. I think it's safe to say that there apparently is a thing as “too much mysticism.”

You could've argued that there hints of trouble already from the get-go, when you encroach upon the more-often-than-not lethal dead-mans land between two major intelligence agencies – the Black Hoods and the I.C.I – or that even the most nosy of people know when they've been burned enough to prioritize their own life and safety...

Sadly-.. sadly, I admit to an infatuation of “The Truth” - I inexplicably stride towards hidden mysteries with my damn symbolic torchlight, and while it's normally only myself left to handle whatever monsters I expose, this time-.. this time, I finally managed to put other people in the line of fire.”

Booker pauses, a frustrated groan betraying just how tired he sounded:

wrote:
“All this evil-.. started in the most ironic fashion; a “routine” opportunity emerged as I was indentured to drinking duty at the hands of Sergeant Keon Baxter; what he couldn't present in war-grizzled decorations, this human made up with an almost arcane, inexplicable ability to radiate a “Fix-It” field – where-ever he put his foot down, efficiency in the surroundings seemed to just-.. jump. He'd poke the right people, pull the right strings and do just the correct amount of hard lifting to cause a butterfly effect where three days of work could be done in three hours.

He has remained my chosen officer, an outstanding ally and a fast friend for years.

This was also accredited to his mean mixing skills as a part-time bartender at the Black Hoods Bar in Thayd; it was during one of these occasions where I had the opportunity to talk to Nathan Smythe; a jittery and careful young man who, at first glance, was standing on the outskirts of that evenings drinking hoo-hah, debating whether to commit or flee the scene.

I don't know if it was providence-.. or just plain coincidence-.. or some sort of innate dash of destiny that compelled me to give him a more concentrated look, but the moment I recognized the sigils and insignia of the organization he belonged to, I knew I had a story...

Nathan Smythe, under my semi-inebriated flash-interrogation, caved in and admitted that he belonged to the C.o.G.S; The Coalition of Galactic Scientists – between the Exiles and the Dominion, there had only been a precious few societies, factions and groups that managed to negotiate with both equally without immediate reciprocation by one or another. Among them, this list counted the Lopp; considered too hardy and shrewd to end up on the bad side of either warring side – The Freebots; as their name implies, they're their own sort and for now, even the Dominion apparently find it more prudent to leave them to their own devices.

And then there was the Coalition – a secretive, highly organized group of some of the finest, brightest and most discerning minds of the Galaxy, notorious for shedding any political ties with any faction beyond themselves in the pursuit for what at a glance seemed a naively Utopian thought: “Science for the Betterment of All.”

No-one particularly likes the Coalition, for that same reason; with the war between us Exiles and the fierce dominion, you'd never bat an eyelid if an Aurin, for example, saw red the moment he saw a Chua. Now imagine that this particular Chua was not only having the gall to call himself “neutral”, but was allowed to walk in an Exile settlement with the official pardon of the FCON and the Black Hoods – or-.. or a Mordesh, wading through a Dominion capitol, rebuffing any claims of intelligence theft with reference to her “new employers”..

Myths-.. heh, there were plenty of those; none that I know ever managed to approach a official reason for why the Coalition was given such freedom of movement, but ohhh did people like to talk:
“Friends in higher places, hell even some in the administration -belong- to the C.o.G.S” to “an overruling undeniable logic” to “They have more advanced weapons than us, we better not piss them off” have crossed the digital comm-verses in pursuit of fitting answers-..

And here I was thrown a journalistic bone, as one of these mysterious scientists had almost literally waded up to my bar-table.”

Booker chuckles mirthlessly into the microphone and pauses for a long time. As he speaks again, his voice is smitten by thin-lipped regret:

wrote:
“Sometimes, it seems, you have to pay some very hefty prices to glimpse the Truth.With this innocuous little interview with Nathan Smythe, I would begin the painful unravelling of a secret that ran in the seedy underground of two societies, and find myself facing a moral dilemma with-.. with such far-reaching consequences-..

If I had known.. if I have known..would I have pursued it?

My name is Booker Woodsson. And this has been the first episode of “The Beast.”.”

The recording stops.
Posted Nov 11, 15 · OP · Last edited Nov 30, 15
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TWO



The article based around Nathan Smythes interview was posted many months before the first “Beast” entry hit the grid; it was a simple affair, introducing the basic outline of the Coalition of Galactic Scientists from the perspective of the Exiles – an enigmatic organization able to converse with both factions without incurring the political wrath of either.

He peppered it with colorful, disparate and occasional raspy opinions from layman Exiles and even introduces the surprise angles of a hijacked Dominion communication presenting inputs from a Chua scientist (A hysterical impression, Booker painting out a picture of the Chua literally screaming at the other end). The conclusion of the article was cautiously optimistic, biding the reader to keep an eye on these folks; they might be the key to a lasting future peace.

The meat of the interview centers around Nathan Smythe, one representative of the Coalition – when the second “The Beast” entry is exposed only a week after it's first, a full transcript of the interview was attached as well.


-

The "Beast" recording introduces the voice of what sounds like a young man – the gentle voice, somewhere in the tenor range, is smooth and faltering, threatened to be overwhelmed by shuffling of whomever handled the recording device:

NATHAN:
S-sorry, I'm not used to being considered noticeable enough to interview or anything-..”

The Beast wrote:
“The quivering voice you're hearing belongs to Nathan Smythe, my chosen representative of the Coalition of Galactic Scientists that I had the fortune of meeting in Thayd:”

Bookers voice goes on to reassure Nathan in the interview audio, while a clearer Booker voice speaks on-top:

The Beast wrote:
“At a glance, he's the sort of fellow that embodies the scientist trope to an alarming degree; a wiry frame and a slightly ducked body posture complemented with a practical scientists coat refurbished for travelling duty. He was young, barely above twenty if I had to hazard a guess - but underneath this demure first impression, it was obvious he had seen himself through enough trouble to not be considered “weak”, as I'd later learn during my interview.

We had gotten ourselves comfortable in the Lopp village, “Shinysand Oasis”, with my intern assistant, Dio, working to arrange proper lighting; it was a badly kept secret that comfortable lighting made interviews more relaxed. And as it stood right now, he seemed to need a lot of reassurance following our last encounter.

Even with the consolation that we were on neutral – and quite policed – grounds, it was obvious that Mister Smythe wasn't at ease, his hands fidgeting and his eyes constantly checking his flanks, as if suspecting black-clad men would jump out behind nearby crates and drag him off.

Following my introduction ritual, explaining for example that he had the right to not answer a question for whatever reason and he could choose against particular methods of documentation, Nathan Smythe had insisted that no video feed was conducted. Thankfully, he allowed me to record audio:”

Booker clears his throat in the interview audio and then begins with a steady and practised voice:

BOOKER:
“The Coalition of Galactic Scientists-..

Something of a living enigma amongst us; Both Exile and Dominion have “escaped rank” and joined under their mysterious banners – and here in our company, a man whom wears those colours with a measure of pride, I almost spot. How about you introduce yourself to our listeners, mister Smythe? Your name, age, a bit of your background before joinini' the aforementioned Scientists..?”

NATHAN:
Erm, t-thank you, mister W-Woodsson. Erm-.. Well... my name is N-Nathaniel Smythe. I'm... erm, I'm nineteen years o-old, and... w-well, just y-your average researcher. I w-was a Lowborn Cassian living in Ellevar before I renounced Citizenship and joined CoGS.”

BOOKER:
“Renounced citizenship”-...

The Beast wrote:
“Something I had been led to believe was considered a capital offence and tantamount to anything ranging from treason to heresy, depending on whom you had the pleasure of speaking to.”

NATHAN:
Erm... well, I s-suppose it would be. It erh... did cause raised brows and s-some questions when I l-left:

The Beast wrote:
“We shared a brief chuckle, but what struck me was that while he was nervous, there seemed not the slightest hint of regret. Maybe I was simply biased at this point, but it was a hard sell convincing me that anyone hadn't had second thoughts about leaving the safety of the Empire behind.

I inquired about the first of many rumours suggesting how some Exile boots considered the CoGS a group of wise-guy superheroes, one of many different opinions and speculations I'd run across when sharing soldier-tales in backwater barracks:”

NATHAN:
S-Superheroes? W-well Mister Woodsson, I'm not s-sure where t-that sort of rumour comes from, b-but we're more like a ragtag bunch who's m-managed to put aside differences to work t-towards a common goal. I-if you strip the scientist p-part away, you c-can see we're n-normal... normal people too, uh-..

NATHAN:
I-I've never been one f-for conflict growing u-up, so I d-didn't like the idea of w-war and all it entailed... And as a-an aspiring scientist, I d-didn't enjoy the idea of withholding or t-trying to steal research f-from others... it s-seemed w-wrong to hide it like that.

NATHAN:
Eventually, seeing people get hurt on both s-sides was too much for me, so I decided I didn't want any part of this war, and applied for CoGS instead of the Collegium.

BOOKER:
A man disinterested in war and eager to share technology for the betterment of all – a right out Black Hoods nightmare you've ended up becoming, huh?

The Beast wrote:
“While I gave him a light-hearted smile to blunt the arguably teasing poke, his visible flinch at the mention of the Exile Intelligence agency only confirmed my suspicions – the CoGS were not exactly on first name basis with the Hoods, the latter being the loudest adversaries towards their continued presence in Thayd.

I diverted his attention, focusing on how one were to join the Coalition; a simple affair with recruiters stationed in both Dominion and Exile strongholds, the formal process of sending a résumé and a statement of intent-... it was when we broached the topic of the tests where I spotted-.. a change:”

NATHAN:
If you were well prepared, I'd say it shouldn't be that hard. We are, however, very serious about what we do and keeping out of political entanglements. This means that each member is required to swear an oath forsaking all ties to any prior faction.. Ahemn. Political, that is.

The Beast wrote:
“It was obvious at this point that mister Smythe was genuinely excited about his station in the Coalition; he spoke with more certainty and confidence, an unmistakable enthusiasm breaking through his otherwise demure personality displayed so far.
That meant only one thing – it was time to lean a bit harder on him; I disclaimed my next questions, warning him that the next inquiries would be of a tougher nature:”

BOOKER:
Words such as “traitors”, “liabilities”, “crazies”, “heretics” - the last one was yelled at me over a hijacked communication with a Dominion-.. Lets not beat around the bush; as some out there are fascinated, there's also a not insignificant portion of people who're straight up -scared- about you folks-.. When they only hear from sources with particular “colours”, y'awl might understand them.

The Beast wrote:
“I didn't pull my punches – I presented him with a scenario where he had to convince a make-believe sceptic why he should consider the Coalition anything but a huge security issue.

It was -tangible-; the moment he had to defend the very nature of his organization, an inner fire was lit in Mister Smythe that very quickly melted away any apprehensions or uncertainties he had displayed before:”

NATHAN:
I think.. I think it's only natural to be scared and distrustful of CoGS. Most people on both sides have only known war and fighting for three hundred years, and suddenly a neutral organization where races from both sides work together pops up? It's a mind-boggling concept. War breeds prejudice, and preducicve breeds fear and confusion when the status quo is broken, so to speak.

NATHAN:
It's not an easy thing to step out of the comfort of what you already know and brave something entirely new altogether. Blimey, I had to work up a lot of courage to leave the safety of the Empire when I made my decision.

NATHAN:
But one thing that's always bound CoGS together is the belief that we can all work together for a safer future. There are some problems in the universe that won't be accomplished by a divided Galaxy – you have the Strain, for example – and we seek to discard the concept of war and fighting, for what would the fighting accomplish, if the Strain and other dangerous threats loom over us for all to destroy and everything we fight for?

NATHAN:
Threats like that won't discriminate when they become too big of a problem for everyone to handle.

The Beast wrote:
“You could argue that he was on the defensive at this point – but his voice-.. the concentrated timbre mixed with his harder glance that -cut- through his otherwise bashful demeanour was a stark contrast to the young man I initially shook hands with.
He seemed unwavering even when I presented opinions pitching the CoGS as villanous and bent on galaxy wide domination; it was hard not to be swept up by his stoic defiance and adamant conviction as he spat the following back at me:”

NATHAN:
CoGS serves discovery and learning for the benefit of everyone, first and foremost. We aren't leaders, we're not trained to handle political affairs – or Gods-forbid take on leading positions within factions composed of billions and billions of sentient races and people.
To try and take control of both factions would go against our philosophy of remaining a neutral party. Politics is a field in which we'd rather not meddle in.

BOOKER:
Thank you for your time, Mister Smythe. It's all we have time for now, but it has been -very- enlightening.

NATHAN:
Thank you for having me, Mister Woodsson. It was a pleasure.

The Beast wrote:
“Make no mistake.

While he responded with stoic politeness, the man that sat before me was the pitch-perfect example of devotion. Much as he'd attempt to deny it, in that moment he could have been the leader he very adamantly argued the CoGS were not.

The gravity of his conviction struck me – here was a man, only nineteen years old, who had forsaken his entire cultural upbringing and safety, and more importantly, -never looked back-. I learned in my conversations back home that he mostly complemented his education as a farmer – a /farmer/ who picked up science and would go on to, willingly mind you, join with what is considered one of the most distrusted and debated congregations of people in the known galaxy.

To say I wasn't impressed would be a lie. I had met aurin less convinced in the defence of Arboria, and they were damn near considered obsessed.

How could a nineteen year old – a pup in many peoples perspective – have the gall and stoicism to make such a pivotal decision and own it, when we had FCON veterans in our ranks who wavered when faced with hard questions and choices?

It was-..”

Booker chuckles on the recording:

The Beast wrote:
“...almost comical to see him revert back to his demure self the moment the interview was over. I excused my harsher questions sprung on him so suddenly, but the young man seemed sympathetic, almost inquisitive around the methods I used. If he had taken offence, I couldn't spot it anywhere. Mister Smythe didn't seem prone to dishonesty either-way, so as we parted I was left with the impression we were on good terms.”

-
The Beast wrote:
“You'd think the story ended there.

It was 3 AM in the morning, two days later as I was bunking out in one of the FCON barracks when I learned that someone had noticed my interest in CoGS.”

The recording “rustled”, suggesting someone was rearranging themselves on a bed or in a bunk; someone attempted to stifle a yawn – and failed – before the hushed voice of Booker spoke out, somewhat drowsy as if he had been awoken just very recently:

BOOKER:
I am-.. I am sitting in this FCON barracks-.. there's maybe three other soldiers sleeping down the hall-.. so ah-.. I'm trying to keep my voice down..

There was a pause as Booker seemed to consider his next words:

BOOKER:
So.. I just uh-.. started the recording, because there's been a little surprise twist.. Just thirty seconds ago, my communicator-.. apparently turned on by itself. Buzzed madly. I took it and a message popped up from an “Unknown Sender.”

More rustling and a little “beep” as Booker apparently called the message up on his communicator:

BOOKER:
I mean, it's.. almost cheesy when you think about it. But it reads: “Wake up, Mister Woodsson.” - then-.. then about five seconds after I read it, another one pops up saying: “You have unread correspondences, Mister Woodsson. I suggest you read it.

Another pause – it was obvious that Booker at this point was waking up very quickly, and the excitable tone that came with his next statement had him wheezing more than whispering:

BOOKER:
There's a new-.. a new e-mail in my inbox, and it says-.. “Coalition of Galactic Scientists Administration Wing” - and-.. ah, the header says; “Concerning the Demise of Otis Felthaven”-..

Bookers voice lowers a bit, alarm and intrigue fighting against each-other in his tone:

BOOKER:
Otis Felthaven-.. was an old contact of mine-.. good friend, died of old age. I always-... suspected the man had some interesting connections-.. but the implication that he might be connected to CoGS is-.. well, surprising!

Booker takes a steadying breath and clicks a few messages, the digital “Tick-tick” heard as he navigates into the message. There's a pause as he reads it to himself silently, before he breaks into what best could be described as a coo, even breaking into a disbelieving chuckle:

BOOKER:
Hells-bells, okay-.. it's a notice from the Coalition that they-.. /apparently/ have realised some parts of his estate have been written out to -me-. It's very-.. formulaic, like an administrative procedure than anything.. but.. listen to this..

Booker clears his throat and cites form the letter in his hushed tone of voice:

BOOKER:
“We have decided to follow the wishes of the late Mister Felthaven due in part to the recent interest we have registered by your person in our organisation.

Please understand, however, that this is considered nothing else than a gesture of good faith and proper form on our part; we expect no compensation on your part and we will cover all transportation expenses and legislative details.

We will forward you details about the items left to you in a follow up mail in one to three workdays from the time of this correspondence.”

Booker pauses for a long time, breathing a bit harder – when he speaks, his tone is contemplative.

BOOKER:
Otis had always taken a surprising interest in my education as a journalist-.. but-.. I'm genuinely-.. surprised that he apparently left something to me. For some reason-.. it also seems out of-.. out of place that the Coalition would ah-.. risk sending something that apparently was “part of them” to me-.. And what's this about them registering a “recent interest”?

BOOKER:
I can understand that Smythe probably made some mention about his interview, but-.. I can't.. for the life of me imagine it being anything else than a curiosity.. I guess-.. I guess my interest in them s being kept tabs on. With the whole ah-.. live messaging and everything. Can't say I'm not a bit wierded out by this..

BOOKER:
Anyways-.. I reckon I'll stop here, and we'll see what the follow up mail contains.

Bookers overlain voice returns:
The Beast wrote:
“The follow up mail came two days later. It was sparse on details, simply detailing a date and place of delivery in Thayd. An attachment document ensured me that all the bureaucratic red tape had been handled by the Coalition, so I was basically free to do with it what I wanted.

Knowing that Otis Felthaven was an accomplished riddle enthusiast, however, I had a stinging suspicion that it wasn't a coincidence that he left something to me; or that the Coalition allowed me to get my hands on it.

Otis was also an architect hobbyist, able to talk for hours at a time about lines, volumes and spaces and how they interwove and created structural experiences for people passing through a building. Luck would have it that I had an accomplished architect in my book of contacts:

A few days later, me and Vlinn Vineweaver began picking apart the estate of Otis, blissfully unaware what ramifications my interview with Nathan Smythe had:

My name is Booker Woodsson. And this has been the second entry to “The Beast”.”

The recording stops.
Posted Nov 28, 15 · OP · Last edited Nov 29, 15
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NATHAN SMYTHE Interview Audio Transcript:


Spoiler: NATHAN SMYTHE InterviewShow
Posted Nov 29, 15 · OP · Last edited Nov 29, 15
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THREE



The third entry into the beast came with the same time interval between the first and the second, suggesting at this point that the entries were published in an automated fashion.

-
The Beast wrote:
"Spooky and foreboding messages written with overdone dramatics weren't exactly a novel concept in my line of work; between disgruntled and excommunicated FCON officers, outlawed politicians and the occasional petty criminal pulled out into the open by journalist exposes, people like me poking our tails into other folks business came with an inevitable rooster of enemies.

But, only to strengthen my suspicions that this Coalition had apparently noticed me, I ran the two messages from my night-time barracks event through every legal and illegal tracking software I could get my hands on.
Not only could they not track the origin of the messages; for all sense and purposes, the different programs presumed that the messages had /always been in my inbox/, pre-installed when it was manufactured. Obviously, whomever sent this message had access to some very exotic encryption.

Having exhausted that lead, I instead awaited the arrival of Otis Felthavens estate with bated breath; it arrived the same day I touched down in Thayd again, an automated response saying I should contact the local authority on shipping in Spaceport Horizon.

Knowing that Otis had his architecture hobby, I recruited the help of my significant other, Vlinn Vineweaver; an aurin whom I had the astounding pleasure of meeting during a chance encounter in his tea-house; Vlinn was an interesting personality; he had a certain flamboyance about him that often drew the attention of his surroundings - but underneath that, you found a tender man with a heart almost too large for the harsh Nexus world.

He was also one of the best architectural power-houses I had met, having a knife-sharp attention for detail that left me in awe whenever I visited his place.

He also-.. .was one of the very few people I could confide myself in. He wasn't afraid to point out if I was on a dangerous track, but always left me convinced he'd have my back when push came to shove - to say that he heh.. represented one of my supporting pillars in trying times was an understatement - I wasn't too good at telling him this, I admit.

In the same breath, my intentions were innocent enough, but in hindsight, I-.. should probably not-.. have chosen to get him involved in something that had my gut feeling turn on all warning lights."

Booker pauses and sighs gently, his voice momentarily muffled as if he ran his hands across his face:

The Beast wrote:
"I blame my enthusiasm for discovery on this, I guess. Never a good idea to put those you care for in a difficult atmosphere as this.

Anyway-.. following a brief introduction of Otis Felthaven, we met with the shipping leader, who curtly informed us that my shipment – though having been cleared all administrative loopholes – had been moved to the eastern part of town because it was “in the way”.
We found the ramshackle packaged estate in among many of the storage “isles” the shipping department had defaulted to during a particularly hectic season; with a war raging on multiple fronts, it was easier to just pluck things from the ground than holing them up in large ware houses – most already refurbished as living quarters or medical stations.

It was surprisingly-.. sparse, and left me wondering whether this was all there was. A letter was pinned to one of the piles of stuff as per instructions of the Coalition, reading:"

Spoiler: Otis' LetterShow

The Beast wrote:
“I instructed Vineweaver to put his eye for architecture to use – he used his datachron to compare each model he found in Otis' remnants to a registry of known and popular buildings, looking for any irregularities that clue us in to the riddle I was convinced Otis had hidden for me. He was helpless like that, always pushing me to guess-work and theorizing whenever we met.

I hadn't expected that he'd find anything so fast, however... sometimes, I'd have to use days to crack a particularly tough enigma, but only after about ten minutes, this happened:”

The recording beeps and Booker speaks “live” from the scene, a sense of urgency to his voice:

BOOKER:
I'm currently standing here at Otis Felthavens estate-.. we were directed here by the shipping director from the Spaceport; Vlinn, my very much significant other, has-.... just been rummaging through some of the many ah-.. architect models that Otis talked about in his letter..

BOOKER:
Could you describe how you found it again? And what's special about this model?

A soft and somewhat perplexed male voice tuned in, a slight tinge of worry:

VLINN:
Alright – I was scanning through each model with my datachron, comparing them to their real life counterparts. There was nothing with any of them – apart from a scratch on a tower's model – but then the Datachron accidentally scanned this one and showed it was unusually far from its counterpart. This is a well known Arborian Elder Tree, the Stay of Tidingleaves – and, well, upon closer inspection, it showed that there was this one branch here which was turned upside down...

The Beast wrote:
“The Stay of Tidingleaves was, as I later found out through research, considered something of a “super-star”, building-wise; it housed a plethora of cultural nexi; museums, art galleries, celebration halls; it strove half a mile into the air and in some was represented the greatness of Arboria.

It burned to the ground, lost during the Ravaging.”

VLINN:
I simply thought it was some damage done to it during the transport and turned it back up – which revealed this compartment here, and these two items..

The Beast wrote:
"Vlinn was referring to a compartment that had emerged the moment the branch was turned to its right orientation; the branch itself had extended away from the main model, and a small hollowed out compartment held a tightly folded piece of paper and a small data storage cube.

At this point, while it was beyond a doubt that something was amiss, I was struck by the first thought that this might be a bit more than just a playful little last riddle of a deceased friend. Something about the nature of this find, how the Coalition had chosen to contact me, had my tail bristling in concern."

Booker was heard murmering that Otis did like his riddles in the “life” part of the recording:

The Beast wrote:
“Again, I have very good reason to trust my gut-feeling on these things; I was apprehensive when I fished out the piece of paper and read aloud:”

BOOKER:
“Booker:

If you're reading this it means the Coalition has bigger plans for you.

I entrust you this mystery; and I'm shameful that I have to – I know that I put you in direct line of fire, so - please be careful. However, I have been left with very little choice – be careful who you trust and if you have close allies, now might be the time to call in favors.

This is security footage between “Subject Secundus”, a Freebot Data Contractor and Yras Nix, a Chua sys-admin.

- Otis”


As Vlinn inquires apprehensively what Booker had gotten them into, Booker's overlaid voice continued:

The Beast wrote:
“Obviously, we were at an impasse. Otis was a trickster, but this was Felthaven from his serious side.

Apparently-.. he had left in my hands a mystery that he himself hadn't been able to pursue. But not only that! The coalition would no-doubt have been able to find this little riddle, so it stood to reason that it was by their design I even had the opportunity to find this.

It was, obviously, the “line of fire thing” that made my stomach twist a bit. I wasn't a stranger to trouble, but I did have the good courtesy to be concerned for friends and loved ones coming too close to me when things began crackling.

On Vlinns suggestion, I decided to not to open the data storage cube out in the open. We parted ways for the evening, and I bee-lined for home.”

-

The Beast wrote:
“I gave myself exactly three minutes to open a can of beer before I sat down and loaded up the data:”

BOOKER:
I'm sitting here at home, and-.. I'm about to play the security footage that Otis left me-.. I have to admit, I heh.. may for a change be a bit apprehensive. Otis doesn't word himself so urgently for nothing..

BOOKER:
Anyway, here goes...

As the “live” Booker comments with small phrases and statements, the overlaid voice tunes in ontop:

The Beast wrote:
“The footage was a overhead perspective of what seemed to be a dominion server-room – Yras Nix, or the very garbled footage of a chua leaning over one of the consoles could be seen; the data was very corrupted, though the audio only cut out occasionally.”


BOOKER:
Huh, and there's the freebot...

The Beast wrote:
“Looking back, I find it ironic that Subject Secundus was at that time introduced as some broken pixels barely forming the shape of a standard Freebot stepping into frame. He looked-.. so unassuming back then.

The freebot stepped into sight and paused, a good fifteen feet away from the Chua; the audio spat out unevenly:”

SECUNDUS:
Organic Nix. This Freebot unit has a question.

The squeaky voice of a chua responded with a measure of confusion:

YRAS:
Secundus? Good, you here. Data clusters corrupted. Were not yesterday. Even backups? You check this?

The freebot didn't respond immediately – but when it did, it seemed to speak slower and with more gravitas:

SECUNDUS:
What is the “Cardinal Cliffs?
The chua sounded perplexed, then frustrated that he had to deal with such a question, spitting back at the robot:

YRAS:
Cardinal Cliffs? Nix not know. Not care much either. These Data clusters-.. all of them corrupted. All of them assigned to you. Secundus-.. what..?

The Beast wrote:
“The freebot began advancing on the chua, and his voice immediately and very starkly changed, a sudden metallic snarl and urgency emerging that seemed-.. almost too emotional for a freebot:”

SECUNDUS:
What. is. the. “Cardinal Cliffs”?!

The Beast wrote:
“The chua spun on the place and peered towards the slowly advancing freebot; even when his visage was nearly undecipherable, the body language was enough to see that the chua went from annoyed to /terrified/:”

YRAS:
What is wrong, Secundus? You approach. Applying attack vector?!

The Beast wrote:
"The freebot kept approaching, one very careful step at a time; apparently Yras noticed a particular stance or “expression” on the robot that cued him off to the danger – then this happened:"
His voice was a nightmarish mangle of artificial voice boxes unable to entirely reproduce the /anger/ that the Freebot wanted to present:


SECUNDUS:
TELL ME, ORGANIC! WHAT. IS. “CARDINAL CLIFFS”!?

YRAS:
S-stay away! Nix not understand what you bla-..

SECUNDUS:
UNACCPETABLE ANSWER! THIS UNIT DEMANDS TO -KNOW-!

The Beast wrote:
“The freebot suddenly /lurched/ at the horrified chua, the video feed cutting out a fraction of a second before he reached his intended target. He repeated the question about the “Cardinal Cliffs” a last time – roaring it out with some sort of desperate intensity – and then-.. then you heard the screams. I cut them out of the recording but I can assure you-..

I don't have much love for the chua.

But I had chills running down my spine-... it was a blood-curdling symphony of breaking bones and mechanical limbs working at cold efficiency, presumably tearing the chua apart one limb at a time."

A brief last piece of audio was heard from Booker reacting to what he saw, “live”:

BOOKER:
W-Weave preserve-.. what the hells.. was that?

-

The Beast wrote:
"I didn't sleep that night. I did go through a pack of smokes, however, and went over what I had learned – and seen.

From what I could stitch together, Otis Felthaven – and the Coalition, by extension – wanted me to pursue what he called a “mystery”. Freebots gone awry weren't a new thing either; there had been sporadic cases of robots having been infected by particularly volatile viruses – the Rage Logic comes to mind – or some who had suffered from deadly malfunctions.

But Subject Secundus had been very singular in his inquiries about something I never heard about before - “The Cardinal Cliffs”. A cursory search on the Exile-Net gave me no results, but knowing that this was Dominion security footage, I made the assumption then that this would demand more exotic data-digging.

And there was Yras Nix; he seemed to have worked with this particular Secundus – even addressed him with a certain confidence; and apparently he paid with his life trusting the robot.

I had leads. I had no idea where these leads would take me, but Otis knew I couldn't ignore this enigma even if I tried.

I'm Booker Woodsson – and this has been the third entry in “The Beast”."

The recording stops.
Posted Nov 29, 15 · OP · Last edited Nov 30, 15
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This looks interesting! I'll try my best to attend the events, if not; I'd love to keep up to date with the story. I also believe I have a character that would fit this plot:
wrote:
Name: Anlini Starshard

Description: Anlini Starshard is an esteemed Aurin scientist specialised in the field of xenobiology and psychology, though she has a profound interest in mathematical problems among any other kind of activity she can logically excel in. In terms of personality, she is very conceited and willing to selfishly put herself first in most situations; she’s naturally very analytical, picking apart situations, both socially and in work, and pulling more information through that; she is also, much to her dismay, very much anxiety-ridden and prone to panic attacks in circumstances where she doesn’t feel in control or know what she’s doing, and yet, past her arrogant appearance, she can become quite the endearing and caring friend or lover if given enough time to adjust to. Her skills include an advanced understanding of biology and psychology and her (still in training) Esper abilities, which she is slowly using to learn a form of technomancy, though most of her Esper powers are limited to mostly relieving healing magic. Her main weaknesses are that she is very much reluctant to hostility, refusing to kill a soul in anything other than a desperate circumstance, and she is very prone to allowing any kind of power or authority to get to her head very excessively.

Reasons for joining: Anlini is more than willing to partake in any opportunity to expand her own knowledge and skills and to aid people as a secondary objective, plus she’s always keen to try and figure out a mystery just as an ability exercise.

Thank you!
ruuli emberglade // jabbit
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Posted Nov 30, 15
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THE BEAST Newsletter #1

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬


Thank you for applying, aurinenthusiast! I've added you and the first batch of relevant names to the new and swanky "Dramatis Personæ" you can find in the opening post!

Stay tuned! The first public event is coming up in not so long; Farside is within reach!

________________

- Ijo Amatrix/Booker Woodsson
Posted Dec 1, 15 · OP
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