Vip3r - Submersion I
|Vip3r - Submersion I|
|Vip3r goes to Internet Hell.|
An acquaintance of Vip3r's from a Matrix tech forum asks her to track down a friend of his who's disappeared. She finds him in a dissonant realm.
TripCode, a user who Vip3r has interacted with on a tech forum, reaches out to her for help finding a friend who hasn't been seen online in about two weeks. When Vip3r asks him for more info, he's evasive about answering, but admits that he asked Vip3r for help specifically because she's one of the users who "doesn't seem really anti- techno," leading her to infer that his friend is probably also a technomancer.
TripCode invites Vip3r to a host where his friend was frequently seen, which has an icon of a gold ring bathed in a purple flame. It turns out to be a cybercombat ring
called Ring of Dark, the illegal counterpart to the professional cybercombat league known as Ring of Light. Upon entering the host, Vip3r is greeted by a cocky security guard
type who introduces himself as Exploit and tells her the rules of the server.
"Rule #1; don't be a dick. Rule #2; TripCode is responsible for anything you do while in this host. #3; Place bets with the bookie, don't do any bets on the side. #4; Keep your files in order. If you try to bring anything out of the host, it will get deleted. #5; Don't get involved with the fights if you're not actually participating in the match. And definitely don't let us catch you doing any technomancy."
After some cajoling, Vip3r is able to talk TripCode into giving her some more info. His friend would frequently fight in some of the matches in Ring of Dark, and placed bets often. TripCode also knew that his friend had a locker here, and probably had some of his personal files stored inside.
Vip3r goes to ask the bookie about TripCode's friend. He is loath to give information. Suspecting that he knows more than he's letting on, Vip3r bribes him ¥500 to open up.
Her plan works.
TripCode's friend is named Hex, and has a wizard theme associated with his persona. He didn't fight in Ring of Dark often, but when he did, he was a damn good fighter. The problem with Hex, however, is that he kept placing more and more risky bets on fights until the bookie declared him a money sink. There were talks about kicking him out, but he completely disappeared on his own about two weeks ago. The bookie suspects that Hex probably owed a hefty amount of money to someone, and says he saw a group of "toxic-looking" personas searching for him prior to his disappearance. They haven't been back as far as he knows, and as far as he's aware, Ring of Dark really only deals with small-time groups.
This seems to be the extent of the bookie's knowledge. When Vip3r presses him for more info about the toxic personas that went looking for Hex, he has nothing to tell her, as they didn't seem to be of any interest to him, or to really anyone in charge at RoD.
"You owe me, kid," Vip3r tells TripCode as they walk away from the betting booth. "You got any more leads on Hex for me that I can pursue while I'm here?"
He tells Vip3r that Hex had a few friends here, and he can sit and wait to see if they come by. Vip3r waits with him, but when no one shows up for a few minutes, she decides to do some more digging on her own and goes to crack Hex's locker. She finds the locker--which is really an encrypted folder-- easily in the combatants' area, copies it to her own storage, then erases her resonance signature from it and goes to rejoin TripCode. She looks through the files that the locker contained while he eats an absurd amount of simsense hotdogs.
Last accessed around the date of Hex's disappearance, the folder contains a few various files; some of Hex's financial records, a message from RoD staff warning him he would be banned from betting and fighting if he kept engaging in risky behavior, and a message--sadly devoid of any identifying information-- from the person he seems to be indebted to. Most interestingly, though, the folder contains the address for a host; it's a long string of meaningless, jumbled alphanumerics that illegal hosts use when attempting to mask their presence from GOD, and the host seems to be a dead drop, or a secure place that such a transaction could be made. Vip3r briefly relays her findings to TripCode, telling him that she's going to check it out and that he can private message her if he needs anything or comes up with any new information.
Vip3r quickly locates this host. Its icon is a V with a biohazard sign behind it, dripping in toxic ooze. Despite its apparently secretive nature, the host's icon is covered in a chaotic jumble of marks. Vip3r enters to a scene reminiscent of a massive, gutted Barrens warehouse, full of personas and files that appear to be discarded toxic material. By watching some of the server's inhabitants and listening in on some conversations, she determines that this host seems to be a place where simsense recordings, BTLs, and services of some sort are bought, sold, and traded. One of the people she speaks to mentions an "oozing blob icon," similar to what was witnessed prowling around RoD's host, also roaming through this one and speaking to them. Vip3r finds a similar-looking persona roaming around in a fixed path, concluding that it's a patrol IC. She follows it, and eventually sees it going into a hidden door to a nested host. Vip3r puts her mark on the door, pops out of the host to begin running silent, and then reenters to explore the nested host.
The second host is stylistically consistent with the first one, but somehow even filthier, darker, and filled with a tone that feels like a discordant perversion of the resonance that Vip3r has known for so much of her life. There are two deckers present, as well as a resonant persona from which this horrible tone seems to be emanating, and all that Vip3r wants is to obtain the necessary information on Hex and then get the frag out. She breaks into a filing cabinet in the room--it's armed with a databomb, which she deftly disables--and discovers records of a raid on the host's original address, in which they lost a lot of their valuable files. Additionally, there's information about Hex; unable to pay off his debt in time, this organization has put him into indentured servitude.
While Vip3r figures this is sufficient information, and that she's probably unable to help Hex on her own, her determination to leave no stone unturned drives her to listen in on the deckers as they converse. Good thing, too; they're talking about someone who seems to be Hex, and saying that if he can just recover that damn file, he'll be free and clear. However, the terms in which they're describing wherever they sent him are unclear and difficult to understand, and even the deckers themselves aren't quite sure how to explain where Hex went.
Unsure how to proceed, Vip3r decides to put in a call to Betz. Having been a technomancer and a part of technomancer community for far longer than Vip3r has, Betz is bound to know something that she doesn't.
Betz explains that there are places deep in the Matrix called the Resonance Realms. All information that has ever existed can be found in these realms in some form, but they can only be accessed by submerged technomancers and free sprites. If Vip3r can find a free sprite that knows how to get to this realm, she may be able to persuade it to take her there, but the sprite will most likely want something in return. Based on Vip3r's description of the host and the way that it feels, Betz suggests that the sprite she's dealing with is a contagion sprite, which will typically ask the person dealing with it to leave an infected file somewhere before aiding them. The file that Hex was sent to look for, a simsense recording of a murder from the perspective of the murderer, is likely in the Realm of Human Malice, a repository of horrible content produced by those who revel in the suffering of others.
Vip3r doesn't want to do this. It feels wrong. It feels evil. But at the same time, she feels utterly compelled to see this through.
She contacts the dissonant persona, who she assumes to be the sprite that would've led Hex to the dissonant Realm, and asks it to show her how to get there. It agrees to bring her there if she'll drop a file in a host for it, but she realizes at the last moment she's able to take a different tack and attempt to convince it that she's working with the deckers. The sprite asks them for verification, and, frustrated at interference from outside, they contact her.
"I don't know who you are, or how you got this information, but if you can bring us that file then I'm willing to look the other way and let you go," one of the deckers tells her. The sprite agrees to bring her to the Realm and let her out when she retrieves the file, and she accepts. A resonance rift opens, and Vip3r is sucked through and spat out into the Realm of Human Malice.
Vip3r finds herself on a lantern-lit city street, which appears to be centuries old. Everything about this place feels as real as the meat world, but her body is that of her naga Matrix persona. She slithers forward to begin exploring this strange place, and sees that different areas seem to correspond to different time periods. The denizens of this world seem metahuman enough, but there's something about all of them that's off; their proportions are wrong, or their expressions are exaggerated, and they're all dressed in this strange, torn leather. There's a tower in the middle of the city, stretching as far skyward as she's able to see, but the doors are huge and heavy and impossibly large, and there doesn't appear to be anty way to enter. She asks one of them where such a file might be found, and gets a cryptic description of a place that sounds like it may look like the modern world.
Vip3r finds a shop that seems to hold media of the type she's looking for; after sifting through shelves full of discs, she finds one that appears to be made by the creator of the file she's looking for, but slightly older and on a slightly different subject matter. She asks the shop's clerk where she can find a similar file, but newer, and the clerk explains it was taken by raiders recently, telling her which direction they went, and that they would "really appreciate having it back." She thanks them, and leaves to go and find this file.
After walking for a ways, Vip3r comes upon what appears to be a makeshift prison camp. Careful to stay out of sight, she vaults over the barricade surrounding it and sneaks into one of the tents, where she finds Hex and a few other prisoners locked in cages. She talks to Hex, who reveals that he knows where the file is and urges Vip3r to fight her way out of the camp with him, saying that the two of them can easily take on the guards together. Finding herself much stronger here than in the meat world, Vip3r smashes the lock and frees Hex. They fight the guards together, and Vip3r retrieves the file from the place they're holding it. The two of them steal a nearby car, which Vip3r drives, and they go to the massive tower in the middle of the city which Hex says is likely to be an administrative building of some sort. They are granted access by the massive creature that controls it, and are directed to a terminal through which they receive a message from the contagion sprite who sent them into the realm, thanking them for a job well done and granting them access back into the Matrix.
Having retrieved the file and found an exit to the dissonant realm, Hex has now cleared his debt with this organization and expresses his gratitude to Vip3r. Vip3r, with her newfound hatred for the Dissonance and anger at its influence on the world, asks Hex if he will help her kill the sprite. He refuses, telling her that if that's meant to happen, the will of the Resonance will enable Vip3r to do it when the time is right. Hex just wants to deliver the file and go home to heal,
and in all honesty with herself, so does Vip3r.
Vip3r sends a final message to TripCode, letting him know that she managed to find Hex and bring him back.
8 Karma. Vip3r gains Submersion level I.
Player After Action Reports (AARs)
I've never really had a connection to my identity as a technomancer. I've been using my gift for years, but until now, I've only ever seen it as a path to an easy way to make money and a fragged-up justification for turning people into science experiments.
Things feel different after that.
I might update this later. I have a lot I need to think about.