Circle of Shadows - 2072

Wires Submersion 2

This submersion is a bit more light-hearted (possibly even comical) than the first :)

This is for the Multiprocessing echo

A nineteen hour orbital flight.

Wires determined that the best use of his time is spent submerging for a second time. The first time he did it, in the recent past, he had found the benefit to be overwhelming useful. Now, however, he was faced with a new and much more crippling weakness.

The fact that his meat body is constantly being left defenseless in these high-risk situations concerned him. After getting injected with what very easily could’ve been something deadlier than Flipside (he had been lucky), Wires made the decision to see if he could discover a means of counteracting this.

Upon materializing in the Matrix, leaving his teammates to bicker or discuss on the suborbital, Wires began searching in the cracks of the Matrix to see if he could find information on what he sought.

Eventually, after a few hours, he came to discover some information boards dedicated to unusual Matrix phenomena. Many users spoke of hackers that somehow were able to stay full VR while maintaining control over their meat body AT THE SAME TIME.

Wires was intrigued.

He dug a bit deeper and discovered that some of the aforementioned hackers were, in fact, technomancers like himself. Wires had enough mental acuity to deduce this had to be the work of the Resonance realms and the echoes.

He set about locating his prize.

Floating there in the data streams, Wires let the Resonance within his icon reach out and seek the Resonance realms, hoping to find the one appropriate for what he sought. The feeling was indescribable, reaching out into the Matrix and being able to have a part himself be integrated into its very nature.

After some time, he felt a “vibration” come from one his Resonance “tendrils”. He followed it without question, allowing himself to be pulled by the forces of Resonance both within and around him.

Finally, he was led to what looked like a tear in the Matrix. Wires had encountered tears before, knowing that they were bits of broken or corrupted code that created anomalous-looking manifestations in the Matrix but were harmless if left alone.

Apparently, he couldn’t leave this one if he was to obtain the new power.

Approaching the tear, he analyzed it carefully, determining its nature before attempting any sort of manipulation or repair on it. He found, after careful examination, that it wasn’t a tear at all but rather a node that was barred from access and hidden from casual observation by an altered external reality representation. Quite literally, it was the “locked back door” into a Resonance realm.

Wires’ icon raised an eyebrow.

[All right…time to work on my ‘lockpicking’ skills…]

He dove in without hesitation. He hacked his way through the code and found the node’s source material. Unsurprisingly, there was an underlying layer of Resonance with the source material that was allowing the node to escape detection from normal hackers and Matrix users. Additionally, Wires discovered that with a simple manipulation of the Resonance source allowed him access.

[Created so that only technomancers could access it. Clever.]

The node, perceivable only to him, changed its form and opened itself to the young technomancer. Wires paid the proper respect to the Resonance and glided into the waiting door into the realm.

He found himself free-falling downward. Further and further he went before everything went dark and he awoke to find himself, once again, in his meat body. However, this time he still felt a connection to the Matrix.

Wires sighed.

“At least that is not a problem this time.”

He stood and found himself in what appeared to be the garden of an Asian temple of some sort. The peaceful serenity of the place washed over Wires as he walked about to get his bearings straight. Eventually, he found his way to a building within the heart of the garden. Outside of its doors sat an ancient monk, sitting in meditation.

Wires perceived the building and the form of the monk, coming to the decision that it was best place to begin searching for the echo. He approached the monk, being careful not to be too disturbing until he was within speaking distance.

“Excuse me? Can you assist me?”

The monk didn’t respond.

“I was wondering if you know your way around here?”

Again, the monk didn’t reply.

Wires rolled his eyes and passed by the monk in a huff.

“Frelling faulty programs…”

He approached the door of the building and was about to open it when a voice rang out from behind him.

“You are not ready for that, my pupil.”

Wires turned to find the monk, now standing and facing him. The elderly man came to about Wires’ chest in height, bald head, Buddhist monk adornments, and had a strange look in his eyes. A knowing look.

“Why not? Is what I seek in there?” Wires asked.

“The ability to perceive multiple realms of reality? Yes! Of course it is in there!” The monk replied with an unusually exuberant tone.

“Than I will go in,” Wires moved to open the door once more.

“Trust me, my pupil. If you go in there now, your mind will be lost.”

Wires stopped. He turned back to the diminutive monk, eyes narrowed on the strange entity before him.

“Explain,” Wires demanded calmly.

“You see, one cannot simply be given the ability to perceive multiple realms of reality! You must first train your mind to be prepared for it! That is what I am here for. If you can complete my training, than you will be ready for what is behind that door. If you can not, well than you are not ready. Simple, eh?”

The monk seemed almost giddy to give his long and slightly redundant explanation. Wires stared at the monk for what seemed like an eternity before finally deciding to play along.

“Very well. What must I do?”

The monk gave a boyish laugh as he gestured for Wires to follow him down a trail off to the right. Wires, happy to oblige the strange being, followed. Eventually, he found himself in a clearing within the garden where there lay something he could not believe.

“Plates. On sticks.”

“Yes! You must spin the plate on the stick!” the monk clapped with excitement.

Wires approached the plate, picked it up, balanced it on the stick, and spun it.

“Oh! Oh! Keep it spinning, my pupil!”

Wires carefully kept the plate balanced and spinning.

“Is that all? If that is your training, than I must say I am well beyond qualified for what is in that building.”

The monk laughed again and with a wave of his hands, another plate and stick appeared.

“Now! Keep both spinning!”

Minutely more difficult than the single plate, Wires found himself able to keep the two plates spinning simultaneously. The monk watched, apparently satisfied with his pupil’s progress, as he waved his hands again to summon a third plate/stick combination.

“Now! You must maintain all plates!”

And so Wires began his training. Starting with three plates, Wires found the challenge to be rather easy. It wasn’t until the monk summoned an additional three plates did Wires realize the difficulty he was facing. Faster and faster did he attempt to move, dividing his focus. When a plate dropped, the monk made him begin again. When Wires finally got the hang of keeping whatever number of plates spinning that were present, the monk would summon more.

On and on did Wires undergo this training. Days, weeks, possibly months passed as all he did was balance and spin plates, more and more plates, with each passing hour. He felt exhausted…strained. The monk merely watched, speaking only to summon more plates or begin Wires anew.

Eventually, around what Wires guessed might have been 40-50 plates, did he realize how simple it had become to divide his focus amongst the many plates. His attention focused, obviously, on the plate he was currently spinning and balancing, but other portions of his brain kept track of which plates were in need of more spinning and which weren’t.

Eventually, the monk clapped, and the plates vanished.

“Very good, my pupil! You have done well!”

Wires heaved and panted, exhausted from the extensive movement he had extended.

“So…I can…go into the building…now?”

“Oh, no, my pupil! You must first put what you have learned here into practice! When we next meet, you will truly be ready.”

“But I-“

Before he could finish, the monk made a gesture, and Wires suddenly jolted awake back on the suborbital. Bones looked over at him.

“Wires okay? Wires have nightmare?”

“No…no, Bones. I am fine. Thank you…”

When we meet next, old man…

Axioms of a Technomancer
(Work in Progress)
  • Coding your own program is akin to creating life
  • The Matrix itself is art and beauty
  • Threading is a gift not to be abused
  • Sprites are not tools nor friends, but both
  • A secured node is only another mountain to climb
  • All data is precious, no matter its source
  • Respect the Matrix
  • Above all, respect the Resonance
Hacker's Code of Ethics
  • Access to the Matrix – and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works – should be unlimited and total.
  • All information should be free.
  • Mistrust Authority – Promote Decentralization.
  • Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position.
  • You can create art and beauty on the Matrix.
  • The Matrix can change your life for the better.
39 Oaths of Lei sheng
Triad membership ritual

I swear that I am dead to my mother.

I swear that I am dead to my father.

I swear that I am dead to my siblings.

I swear that I am dead to my city.

I swear that I am dead to my country.

I swear I am dead to my government.

I swear I am dead to my friends.

I swear to never aid police against my Triad.

I swear to obey the orders of my superior brothers.

I swear to place the priorities of my Triad first in my life.

I swear to never reveal the secrets of my Triad to outsiders.

I swear to watch for traitors to my Triad.

I swear to strive tirelessly against the ememies of my Triad.

I swear to strengthen my Triad.

I swear to destroy all enemies of my Triad.

I swear to refrain from personal habits that weaken my body.

I swear that death is preferred to betrayal of my Triad.

I swear to be always prepared for combat on behalf of my Triad.

I swear that my brothers may forsake me if the Triad demands it.

I swear that my brothers may destroy me if I betray the Triad.

I swear to master wushu to better serve my Triad.

I swear to master sorcery to better serve my Triad.

I swear to master the metaplanes to better serve my Triad.

I swear that my spirits will serve the Triads.

I swear to harden my body to better serve my Triad.

I swear to sharpen my mystical senses to better serve my Triad.

I swear to enforce the territory of my Triad strictly.

I swear to protect the territory of my Triad fiercely.

I swear to patrol the territory of my Triad vigilantly.

I swear to increase the territory of my Triad ambitiously.

I swear my finances will be used to serve my Triad.

I swear to govern my finances to better serve my Triad.

I swear no relationship will come between me and my Triad.

I swear to make my superiors aware of opportunities for my Triad.

I swear to never be in debt to my Triad.

I swear on my honor.

I swear on my body.

I swear on my spirit.

I swear on my life.

Wires Log 8
It's expensive to be the best!

So we take our suborbital flight to China. I spend nearly the entire time submerging, which I believe is a much better use of my free time than discussing whatever else the group may have on their minds.

They can always fill me in later.

When we arrive, we are filled in on what we will be receiving from Maria: suits, armor, weapons, and ammunition. We are also asked to start making lists of other things we may want to purchase for our specific roles.

I get to work right away.

After some extensive number crunching and discussing with the group, we come to the agreement that a TacNet system put into place with me running it would be the best idea. I do the math and figure out the cost for my super comm that will be running this whole operation.

Over 50,000! Frell!

It will DEFINITELY be a hit on my savings. I am not too opposed to the expense however, considering the pay we will be receiving from this work and money we will be receiving after fencing all the other loot back in Seattle.

Additionally, having another superior comm at my disposal does not seem like a terrible idea, either.

After the extensive number crunching and whatnot, we are brought to our base of operations. It is a very nice hotel, I must say, and apparently we will be in-charge of its security during our stay! I access the security system that I am given access to and keep it monitored via AR.

Lastly, we are presented with our first job for these people: taking out an inbound shipment of a rival drug. Apparently, we will be sabotaging the ship with a mine they have provided. I immediately opt out of doing the diving work.

This hacker knows his place, and it is not in the water.

We have a lot of planning to do, so let the games begin.

Bones' Entry 6
Bones think hards

Okay so me not the smartest orc, maybe me even one of the stupidests but me know flipside gotta gos. So me remember taking out the super runner guy and then getting shots real bads in the head but not by who. And then kenjis was fixing me up in a car on the way to spiders shop. Then we waits awhiles and the yakuza call us for a meets. So we go and meet the yakuza and they say that they wanna hire us to take out flipside. Me agree cause that is some bad stuffs. Then we pack ups our stuffs and get on a plane to Hong Kong. On the flight me sit back and thinks bout the things that has happened recently. Lots of things happened fasts and me hasnt really gotten chance to thinks. First me gets call from spiders and then me meets most of the group and we go off and spys on peoples. Then we spys some mores and kills a guy. Then we get frameds and invades the docter place. We gets outta da docter place and then we gos after da yakuza boss and “kills” him. Then we go and kick kazs ass. All in all it has been interestings so fars, but me wonders if its gonna gets borings soons. Me thinks bout the group alsos while me thinkings. Spider me known long times and he is not squishys, and is still quite goods at gunfights. Wires me also known long times and he is super squishys but goods at the matrix. Kenji is squishys but he is also a docter so it is understoods, he also good magick man. Blondie is goods at talkings and is super hots, but me not know if she squishies or not yets. Lei Sheng definitely not squishys and he is good magick man toos,(he knows kungfus.) Durgan might be squishies but me not sure yet he also has nice puppies. Kalandra me not like at all, why she not fight me? She troll so she should have good chance but she no fight! grrrrrr. So now me goes cause its time to talk about making magick group.

Durgan's Log 7
Durgan's Logs

Holy crap. What a night! And somehow we’re all alive and I got presents. 2 new Samurais to call my own; I’ll have to name them. Gotta see how they perform, maybe that’ll help. The Yakuza not only didn’t kill us, but hired us on for a more long term undercover gig. Could be good times. Plus we’re going to China. Maybe in some of the down time we’ve been promised by Maria, I could go to Wu Xing’s headquarters and take a tour :). Well, now that we got the drones through customs I can breathe easier and enjoy the flight.

The Contemplations of Lei sheng
Seattle Flipside chapter end

“Regardless, make those you are able aware of the dangers of Flipside, Quan Cho. May fortune and wisdom find you.” Lei sheng bowed formally and left the ‘monger’s shop. What started as a relationship based on a family debt had taken a fortuitous turn and set Lei sheng on an intersting path. Once, the father of Lei sheng’s brother-in-law had saved the life of Quan Cho’s uncle, and that debt had opened the door for Lei sheng to contact Quan Cho here in America…a favor to help get Lei sheng started.

It would have been so easy to remain in China after prison…perhaps not Shang-hai, but Lei sheng felt a call to travel far. While not exactly wanted by the Triads, Lei sheng would be perfectly happy to fall from their scope completely. The Jade Tigers sometimes had opposing views on retirement that were contrary to the potential retiree’s…

So now the secret of Flipside was exposed. Lei sheng shivered…it was only days ago he had inwardly justified working for Kaz. It was not in Lei sheng’s power to save everyone from drug addiction. Each creature has free will, after all.

But Flipside…

As much as it chafed him to do so, at least now any effort on his part to further the trade in this drug would ultimately lead to its downfall. South American Cartels…that stank of Amazonia or (more likely) Aztlan meddling. Insect spirits wreaking havok in Chicago, black shadow spirits (Emo, or demons, as Anglos called them) igniting war in the Middle East…evidence that vast, dark powers vied for the destruction of humanity. And now an addictive drug that promised invincibility in combat and led to Possession.

Lei sheng grinned ruefully. To cap everything off, it was back to China of all places. Kowloon in Hong Kong…the irony did not escape Lei sheng. Karma, it seemed, was not content to keep Lei sheng from China, but only required him to take the slowboat to America and live for a time with SINless squatters and vermin of Seattle.

His new employer, Maria, was a truly beautiful creature. Lei sheng’s mystic senses failed to reveal any mysteries…apparently she was that rare unAwakened being that opted to live cyber-free. She also did not register to Lei sheng’s senses as a technomancer…or rather, nothing in her aura resembled what Wires’ aura looked like, and it had taken Lei sheng over an hour before he was able to recognize the unique (and very subtle) signs of a technomancer.

Thinking of Wires, Lei sheng pondered the odd conglomeration of comrades karma had gifted him with. There was no mistaking that together they were far more dangerous than the Jade Tiger Triad Posse he had run with years ago. While it could not be said the team had been through the fire together, the shootout in Kaz’s abode was certainly a baptism with the promise of more to come. No one had faltered, and no one had panicked during escape from Doc Wagon. And if anyone was still in this for pay, even the princely sum of 1G per day, they needed their head examined.

Wires was truly misleading…so meek and yet by all accounts a formidable warrior of the Matrix. Kenji was refreshing…Lei sheng had heard all his life about the prejudices of the Japanese, yet none were to be found in Kenji’s soul. Their few conversations regarding magic, tactics, and life in general revealed a deeply analytical mind that outstripped Lei sheng in raw intellect. He looked forward to delving the mysteries of metamagic with his newfound friend and ally. Bones...Lei sheng looked forward to polishing the brute instincts and raw adept power into a finely-honed instrument. Not so much as a teacher to a student, but as a colleague who had wisdom to share as equals. Durgan seemed a likable enough fellow, and Lei sheng found his attachment to his drones interesting to say the least. Hopefully, that attachment did not impair a reasonable sense of empathy for real people. As for Kalandra, Lei sheng was reasonably certain he owed her a debt for blasting down one of the Koreans he faced on the second floor. Combat was tricky…perhaps he would have been fast enough to take both, perhaps not. She took action without hesitation and saved Lei sheng the possible trouble of dying. Spider was a mystery to Lei sheng. The two of them had no chance to talk meaningfully aside from strategy and tactics, but he was definitely a man (elf) of action. The layers of cyber throughout his body and brain was a little disconcerting. Upon recollection, Lei sheng realized Spider was the most heavily-wared person he had met to date. And last, the beautiful Ork ex-con and The Beauty. Lei sheng stood no chance. At least her abrasive nature was harmless to him.

While in prison, Lei sheng burned to be free, and was determined to earn enough money as his own man to one day pay for age-regression therapy. Perhaps his karma would one day allow that to be realized, but he knew with chilling certainty that this coming fight against Flipside might claim his life. His years of dedication to the martial wisdom of wu-shu would ensure a surprise for those who stand in opposition to Lei sheng, but no man is invincible.

Lei sheng realized he was prepared for either eventuality…

Blondie Chapter 1-6
Double cross is only fair when it's us.

That last note to self? Scratch that. Buy a fuckin’ CARD READER! Wires works his mojo and gets the coms back up just to announce that the credsticks are spoofed! Worthless! How dare they double cross our double cross! Wait… anyway, things are getting hot up here. I step out to the hall and throw down some suppression fire when I hear that tink tink sound again.

Luckily, Softy’s got my back. She dips out to the hallway and tosses the grenade back down the hole in the floor. Sweet! Well, it’s sweet until the grenade goes off, anyway. Softy and I manage to keep our feet as even more of the floor gives way, but that squirrely-assed ork falls down to the second floor!

I have to say, it was a pretty landing… right into a fusillade of bullets. The fact that the losers shooting at him completely missed is either a testament to his skill or their lack thereof. I strongly suspect the latter (he DID fall down the hole, after all). Softy and I look at each other and decide we can’t just leave his ass hanging down there so we follow him down. Upon arrival, Softy guns down the shitbirds that had been firing at Lei sheng.

Well, having cleared the second floor it appears the most efficient way down is through the gaping holes in the floor caused by assorted grenades. We all sorta shrug and down we go to floor 1. Lei sheng flanks left while Softy and I clear the first floor. Wires managed to mag lock the doors so Kaz can’t get out on the building side of the first floor stairwell, so Softy and I move out the front doors.

As we exit, we notice a limo pull out of the garage into the driveway. Apparently Kaz is going to make a break. Softy once again puts that underbarrel grenade launcher to good use and blows the limo up onto its side. DAMN, I’m glad I gave her the Ares. We see a scuffle going on over by the corner of the building, but before we can head over, we get a distress call from Wires and Shorty on the 3rd floor. Shit.

Softy and I head back into the building to back them up. We’re going to have to either find another stairwell or climb back up. I don’t trust the elevators. As we come to the first corridor, I remember my tactical training and quick peek for threats. All I can say is I’ve never seen any shit like THIS before. Chugging down the corridor is Kaz… well, I’m pretty sure it’s Kaz. His body is… I dunno, rippling. As if he’s trying to shapeshift or change forms or something. Scary stuff.

At that point, reaction kicks in and I open up with a narrow full burst right into his torso. 10 rounds of Ex-X ammo and all he does is falter for a second! I think were in trouble. He tries to take my head off with a huge haymaker. Good thing for me that I got those wired reflexes, I don’t think I could have ducked that punch without them. Softy apparently has the same thought as I did as she opens up on him with her own narrow burst (thank GOD she had the presence of mind not to use the grenade launcher this time!).

Kaz actually stops at this point. His form is still rippling and changing but he just stopped. Almost as if he’s being held up by invisible strings. Well, I’m of the opinion that his possible recovery is a bad idea. Sorry, Yaks, I’m not chancing this one. 1 round behind the ear, execution style, ensures that Kaz will not trouble anyone anymore.

After I loot the body (after all, the bastard didn’t pay us), we get word that Kenji was backing up Wires and Shorty and that all threats have been neutralized. Softy and I go back outside to rally with the rest of the team. I notice the limo and recall wires mentioning that there was a supply of credsticks in there. I try to duck in through the broken back window and my equipment belt gets caught. Shit, now I’m stuck (and the first one of you fuckers that makes a comment about my ass being fat gets a stick-n-shock right to the ‘nads)!

Softy pulls me out before I get singed to badly. I’m cut up from the broken glass but I’ll survive. Unfortunately, I came up empty handed. The team rallies and Kenji dispenses his doctoral ministrations. Then the Yaks tell us that we’re on our own for exfiltration. Great. Lone Star is sitting outside the compound gate but it doesn’t look like they’re here for us. In fact, they’re sitting on their trucks just watching the mayhem like it’s a trid! Maybe they would like some popcorn?

Right about now the fire department shows up. Their tac guys are watching us close but they’re not moving to interfere. I wave to them and we head into the garage. We have 2 Mercury Comets and a pickup truck. As we pile in I notice that someone brought a body with them… souvenir? He’s dressed nice; maybe they’re hoping he has some cool mods. I don’t know. I just know we need to get out of here. We open the front gate to leave and all of us are tense. Is the Star going to hem us up? We’re all ready for more violence but the trid audience doesn’t seem to have any interest in stopping us. We roll out and head to Spiders place to wait for the yaks to contact us about getting out of this town for a while! After this I could use a vacation. Right now, I’ll settle for a drink.

Spider log 6
Up the rope... down the rope

The floor we are on is mostly clear wire has an open line to penetrate the house net and maybe get us some communication. So I trust the rest of the team guard me while I hang out a window and guard a floating rope Kenji might be invisible but rope he’s holding isn’t! The grapple is set I slot the climbing application in my skill wires and make my Japanese language ready to call as climb up a building towards the send of automatic gunfire. The electronic reflexes are stiff and not as responsive to unexpected changes as true reflexes but a damn sight better than no reflexes at all! Part of me hopes they will lock up before I crest the top of the building and take friendly and unfriendly fire alike (I’m just another white elf to everyone on the roof not Korean or Japanese) Wrires pulls thru with communications with Kenji’s buddy increasing my survival rate by 50% only the Koreans will be shooting at me! I feel bones racing up the rope behind me like mostly invisible freight train. I cross onto the roof without being shot (good so far…) wires locates Kaz downstairs heading towards the fire exit better. (even better) The yakuza are rushing Kaz’s rear guard (one less thing…) Bones and I decide to cross the roof with the rope and drop down and cover kaz’s exit point. Wires give us an overhead display showing all enemy positions. Hind sight being 20/20 I should have tossed a grenade before repelling down… but instead I land (empty handed) just as 2 goons come around the corner and open up with bursts of auto fire,,, wired reflexes save my rear end as I dance away from the shower of bullets. I slap leather, one of my guns binds up slightly, but I can use both equally well (Thanks co-processors or natural skill who knows at this point). The one gunman didn’t even get a chance to be surprised that I was still un-shot before my gun blurs into a firing position double tapping him into oblivion. Now the invisible Ork should take the other one out before he can ventilate me… HEY WHY IS BONES STILL ON THE ROOF! I know it was only a slight delay, but with my body on overdrive it seemed like an eternity before bone slid down the rope and turned the other gunner to paste. We cover the door and the corner of the building armored limo vs. grenade launcher limo looses! Thanks Softy! The others never come around the corner but prime runner body guard engages me and Bones. Bones tries to take him out and fails I double tap the sucker with 2 shots to the head, rang his bell but looks like he’s gonna splatter me… Where slab concrete come from 2073 and the bast*rd is taken out by a rock!!! Somebody went medieval on his ass ! Just when I think we are getting a little control BONES decides to try and KILL ME. I dodge but I quickly running out of luck… Sorry Bone but I’ve only seen one guy take a hit from you and live I don’t like those odds. On the plus side I’m loaded with non-lethal rounds head shot brings him down but not out forever. (That’s as far as the player can write this narrative thanks to customers who thinks it’s OK to keep him out till 1 in the morning)


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