[Plot] The Basal Lake - In a Barrel

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swaswj

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The calm before the storm has been cut abruptly short; what should have been a smooth voyage toward war-torn waters is now caught up in a literal, and unnatural, storm. A veteran of several campaigns against ophidians, Captain Garus has recognized the signs of a shaman's storm-shaping and quickly recognized that the ophidian forces could not have reached so far into velen waters. Instead, there is at least one individual on the ship that has been possessed by a shaman, becoming a conduit for the wild magics to reach halfway across the ocean. With the storm battering at the ship, there's limited time to find the culprit and find a way to stop them.

Beginning from the next turn, you have 10 minutes (600 seconds) to locate the conduit, and stop them by any means at your disposal. Each turn, you should estimate how long your actions took -- if it helps, speak any dialogue aloud to time yourself. Your estimate may be revised if it's too far off the mark, and each GM turn will list the current official time remaining.

Difficulty: 70
100+ Great Success
70+ Success
< 70 Failure
< 50 Critical

Mission Bonuses (Unique to the Mission)

+/-?? - The Upset: The situation resolved in an unexpected way.
+20 - There Must Be Another Way: The conduit was stopped without resorting to killing them. Note that simply knocking them out will not work.
+20 - At the Buzzer: You succeeded with less than 30 seconds remaining.
+0 - Target Located: This is necessary to advance.
-20 - Standoff: Precious time has been wasted in a standoff between two or more individuals.
-20 - Aaand, Action?: Precious time has been wasted without actually doing anything.

Standard Bonuses (each available once):

+30 - Page-turner: Wrote at least 3000 words.
+5 - Neophyte: Used a novice- or adept-tier ability.
+10 - Veteran: Used a skilled- or master-tier ability.
+20 - Legend: Used a grandmaster-tier ability.
+10 - Great Feats: Used a feat ability of any tier.
+10 - Magnum Performance: Used a magnum or ultimum ability of any type.

Roleplaying Bonuses (subject to reader scrutiny):

+10 - It's Personal: Your PC has a history with one of the characters, which is touched on or fleshed out here.
+10 - Rogues' Gallery: The antagonists were given distinct personalities.
+10 - Playing the Part: You performed actions iconic to your character.
+10 - Assimilation: The overarching plot has been woven into personal plot.
-10 - Mary Sue and Gary Stu: It's 1000 years too early for you to break a sweat.
-30 - Fade to Black: The thread was not completed in a timely manner. Repercussions for the protagonists may follow.


To better flow, I've split the two groups into new threads.

Amanita, Micali, and Diamantus remain with Garus and the rest of the group in the mess hall: The Basal Lake - In A Barrel

Gwen and Laermont are with Libra hunting the hallways: The Basal Lake - Eyes On You

You're sharing the 600 second timer, but the timer may progress differently in each thread. If either thread runs out of time, their progress will be halted until both threads are caught up. If either thread finds and stops the conduit before time runs out, both threads succeed. This gives you two paths for success.
 
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swaswj

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At the suggestion that one of his crew might be involved, Garus grimaced and very nearly shot Micali for her sheer audacity. He had already made an example with Amanita, however, and though he was more than willing to shoot everyone there, he had enough sense to know that there wasn't enough time or ammunition to check everyone on board one by one. "My crew?" he retorted incredulously. "You have no idea what my crew has been through, what they've endured! There's not a one of them who'd be so weak-willed that--!"

"Captain, we can't…" Libra spoke up beside him.

"Shut it!" Garus growled back. There was a brief, haunted look, there and gone in a blink. A memory of the past, perhaps, when he'd encountered such things before? His tone changed and he pointed the pistol toward Laermont, motioning him toward Libra. "Take the bot and look into it! I doubt their magics work on a machina. You stay here," he added, looking pointedly at Diamantus. She wasn't part of the crew and he did not trust her. She was being too helpful.

"Kid, shut it and come with me," Libra called out, beckoning Gwendolyn. She met the captain's eye and pointed out, "No reason for a naga spy to draw a map, captain."

He grunted and let Gwendolyn past, reminding Libra, "As above, so below," before she sealed the entrance behind them.

Once the three had left the room, someone roughly grabbed Micali by the shoulder and shouted, "This girl just showed up right before boarding! Wasn't she too quick to point the finger at someone else?!"

[260/2060]

470 seconds remaining

For your turns, try to estimate how long they are, rather than how much is remaining. I'll do the 'remaining' on my turns. I timed how long it would take for all the spoken lines, added a little bit for appropriate gaps, and came up with 470 seconds (7 minutes, 50 seconds) remaining.

Libra, Gwen, and Laermont are on the hunt outside. I'm thinking Laermont will need to come up with the best way to use Gwen's map (and whatever she may have seen while mapping*), but whatever you plan, do it quickly.

About a third of the crew is in the main room, however, helping block the exits and entrances. There are ten entrances and exits, Garus is blocking one, and there are at least 4 crew members at each of the other 9.

Micali, Diamantus, and Amanita are still inside. It's an enlil carrying a rapier who is putting Micali on blast.

The title is a hint, but figuring out what it means is not necessarily required to pin down the conduit.
 

Micali Alsara

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It took every ounce of control and willpower in Micali’s body not to act on the impulse that told her to spin on her heel and throw her fist into the enlil’s face. “Hey, get your fucking hands off me,” exclaimed the sniper, eager to shirk the hand off her shoulder before she turned to the crowd, suddenly aware of just how centered the attention was on her. She then took a deep breath and faced the captain’s revolver.

“The chances are that all the passengers are innocent.” Micali tried to calm herself, to rationalize every thought in her head that screamed of the danger she was in. She turned back to face the green enlil who had pointed her out. After only an instance’s thought, she turned back to the captain one more time.

“You want proof? Shoot me if you think I’m worth the ammo.” Micali outstretched her arms and clenched her jaw as her eyes narrowed toward Garus, daring him to pull the trigger. This wouldn’t be the first time she’d been shot, and she could only hope it wouldn’t be the last.

[1977]

(32 seconds)
 

MoonlitRain014

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Diamantus narrowed her eyes for a moment at Garus, but kept her mouth shut. Laermont gave a sharp nod of his head in acknowledgement and gestured to Libra that she should follow. He pointed at Gwen as well. "I need your map and you, as well as Libra. Let's go!"

Without waiting, he barged out of the door with his two companions. As they moved down the hallway, he barked. "What are the most likely hiding places, Libra? Gwen, tell me where those things are on your map. Don't waste time, we haven't got it."

[1790]

(30 seconds)
 

Amanita Agaricales

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Amanita groaned as she stood up. With such an rash captain that had no idea how to maintain control of things, it was no wonder everyone was getting heated. Her body was still feeling sore, not just from the shock but from falling to the without any way to break her fall. She forced the muscles of her hands to move, pulling out a blank page from her book as well as taking out the pen.

"I think we should," she said in answer to Micali. "Not just you, but everyone. Everyone will be tested, all at once." There certainly wasn't enough time to shoot people one at a time. "That way no one can feel the situation is unfair." She glanced to the enlil trying to enflame the situation. "There is enough metal in this room to conduct lightning to everyone at once as long as everyone is holding onto the same thing. I assume this room can survive an adept orb of lightning."

While speaking, she was writing something down on torn page.

[1445]
(25 seconds)
 

swaswj

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Garus barely even looked Micali's way, unleashing another trio of bolts with a hiss. The bolts hit her with another jolt, as hard as the one which downed Amanita. As her teeth rattled and Micali dropped to the ground, streams of smoke rising from the scorching on her clothes, Garus broke open the gun and reloaded it. He had no moral compunctions about zapping any of the mercenaries, especially ones that thought asking for it would paint them as innocent.

Be that as it may… "You aren't riding a lightning rod, woman, and not even a bolt from the deadliest shaman or the damned Destroyer himself could take down this many in one go. But go ahead. Try." He waved his gun at the crowd, nearly two thousand strong, and yelled at the top of his lungs, "In fact, all of you try! If you've got the nerve to go against ophidians, I can promise you'll be seeing a lot more lightning in your future. There's no evading it in the water, no escaping the arcs, no perfect insulation to save you.

"Show me it's worth carting your sorry asses to the front lines!"

[200]

410 seconds remaining

Luckily for you, I think you're overestimating how much time you're using. Remember to try to time yourself speaking or miming the actions.

All metal is conductive, but not to the same degree, and energy has a limit to how far it can be dispersed. Even a real bolt of lightning has its limits: 1.21 gigawatts! (not really, but you get the idea) For this shocking plan to work, you're going to need a lot of lightning cast by a lot of people, and you can bet that some aren't going to be too happy about it. If you can write out some form of this credibly (meaning hundreds of lightning spells), you could potentially find the conduit or confirm there isn't one in the room.

There may be consequences even if the plan works, but hey, you are on a time crunch…
 

Amanita Agaricales

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Amanita took a sharp inhale through her nose. Since he seemed to enjoy it so much, she looked at Garus and said, "Captain, can you test Diamantus as well? I would like her help, so having her be cleared would be fantastic." She motioned to her velen companion.

"Also, I'm going to use the announcement system." Amanita had seen it used before during her time spent in the mess hall. It was a simple pipe system with speakers placed throughout the edge of the room. One access point was located at a nearby wall. She flipped open the cover. "Announcement time. Announcement time." Her voice came through the room, rising over everyone's talking. "This is Amanita Agaricales. Many of you will likely have met me already. There is an emergency situation right now. Everyone that is at least an adept of Bellator please meet me by the front entrance. Others nearby, step back to make room. Time is of the essence, and your help is essential." Her voice was calm, clear and commanding.

(173) Starting new count.

30 seconds
 

Micali Alsara

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As the electricity coursed through her, stung her body all over, sent her sprawling to the ground as its effects finally, finally wore off, Micali let out a shrew smile. She had proven her innocence, sure enough, but was equally relieved to simply be out of the conversation. The sniper was perfectly content to lay there and allow the world to decide her fate - be it sink or swim.

Then, she managed to tune back into the conversation as the pitch in her ears finally dimmed. They were discussing electrocuting the entire room to prove everyone's innocence, and it was truly the most pointless idea she’d heard in a long time - and she practically invented bad ideas. She rose, faster than any probably expected. Her joints ached but her expression remained stony despite the pain that surged through her body with every movement. She brought one hand to her side as she leaned heavily on one leg, not exactly the image of a stoic paragon.

That's,” she groaned as her voice croaked itself back to normal, “A horrible idea. We need…to find the culprit, and it’s nobody here. Unless…” she trailed off, face turning to Garus. Her eyes narrowed at the possibilities that suddenly became clear to her.

“You...you said ‘as above, so below,’ what does that mean? Before you shoot me again or try to yell over me - humour me. I want to live through this just as much as you do, and it’s gonna take them some time to figure this spell out.” After Amanita mentioned users of Bellator, a pang of guilt shot through the laicar, one that she forced down alongside memories of a certain pink velen back home. Micali could only hope that the intensity of her eyes - those not entirely of a soldier, but of something of the sort - was enough to persuade the captain of her heartfelt intentions. Should Garus choose not to see reason, to shoot her again, the brunette was unsure if she’d live long enough to drown.

[2315]

(40 seconds)
 
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MoonlitRain014

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Diamantus glared at Garus. “If you have to use that Vis-damned thing on me, do it. Otherwise let’s just get on with it.”

The crowds were milling around, looking uncertain about whether or not they should do what Amanita was asking or stay put. If the conduit was in the room, they didn’t appear to be volunteering that information. It was a potentially volatile mess and, while Diamantus watched Amanita try to take control, she added her own particular brand of authority to her companion’s voice.

“Well don’t just stand there like bloody sheep! You heard what the woman said! Bellator adepts get your asses up there. If you don’t, Garus’ little zappy wand is going to seem like being stroked with a feather once I get started on you.”

Every inch of her muscled body radiated command as she barked, her voice carrying with nearly as much force as the address system. Some of the more easily cowed people in the room with Bellator abilities stepped forward as she snapped at them, but the rest still shuffled and looked uncertain.

Turning to Amanita and Micali before glancing at Garus, she shook her head. “Well, Captain, are you listening? Let’s hear what Micali here has to say.”

20 seconds
 

swaswj

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Before Garus could answer, the Arsenic keeled over to the right side. The captain grabbed onto a metal support on the outer wall, narrowly avoiding being thrown from his feet while the majority of the room's occupants were not as lucky. Garus yelled out, "Brace yourselves, the ship is going to go vertical!"

As he said, the ship turned and aimed straight downward, rapidly spinning as it descended. The only thing that he knew would cause such a sudden lurch to the side was breaking through into a whirlpool, and the navigator at the helm would have no choice but to aim the vessel down into the center. At the risk of shearing one or both 'wings' of the ship off in the violent forces, they avoided being stuck circling the drain while lightning rained down on the hull.

Garus hung by one hand from the rear of the room, looking to find only a handful with the reflexes to hold on to the walls or bolted tables, with Micali among them. Until the ship stopped spinning and leveled out, it was all Garus could do just to hold to his consciousness, but once the navigator had control again, he growled out, "As above, so below. Once a naga takes control from above, the conduit below is lost. Don't be swayed by who they used to be.

"Kill them. It's the only way to be sure."

The many mercenaries and volunteers were regaining their feet on the far side of the room, shouting at each other, too far off to have heard the captain's words. Those close enough to catch the explanation, though, recognized the conviction in his declaration: if he couldn't find the target, he was willing to take things to the extreme.

And he was very determinedly staying poised next to a panel on the wall, slashed in yellow and black stripes and with a red lever locked behind a heavy glass pane.

[325/2585]

240 seconds remaining

Assume your characters are among the ones on the rear side of the room with Garus after the ship settles.
 

MoonlitRain014

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The velen's powerful arm easily held her in place, braced by her equally strong legs and she rode out the violent motion smoothly. As she glanced back at Garus, her expression was grim.

"So yer sayin' anyone could be a naga, Garus?" Diamantus watched him carefully, his hand resting near the control panel. She kept a firm grip on her pistol, sweeping it across the room as she cast an appraising glance from face to face.

She sighed and added, "I just don't wanna start killing people until I'm sure of who the hell's gonna die."

This messy, milling crowd was starting to come to their feet slowly. Everything was in disarray and felt vaguely dangerous. There was a mood in the air that made the velen's grip on her pistol tighten a little before it relaxed.

Pointing to the lever, she shook her head. "Are ya really gonna pull that bastard if we don't find the naga?"


30 seconds
 

Amanita Agaricales

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More than ever, Amanita felt she had to prove people innocent or one person guilty. That was the best option to prevent more drastic actions from being taken, as she felt Garus would do so.

To start with, she peeled her hand off the pipe. All of the important things were still clutched in her hand. She held out the piece of paper she had been scribbling on. It seemed that the sudden tilt helped bring everyone towards one side of the room. There was enough free space that she could utilize.

Amanita walked towards area with the most free space. "Alright, everyone that is adept at Bellator come over around me. I'm going to summon some help, ignore her. Arise, Memerosia."

She dropped the piece of paper to the ground. It was covered with inscriptions. When it landed flat, the drawing sprawled out into a circle. A red arm reached out, followed by the rest of a demon, red as a crab with the outer shell to look like one, too. At least the bottom half. The top half was that of a slender woman. Unlike most servants, it was her mouth that was most sealed with several muzzles and chains.

'Yes, it has been a long time... But I still remember every face!' Being unable to speak, it was a telepathic message sent from servant to master.

Amanita ignored the inane babblings and addressed the people around her. With the amount of mercenaries in the room, there were over a hundred that had the skills she needed. "There is a possessed traitor on board the submersible. As I have discovered, the best way to detect them is to shock the person since the magic that possessed them also makes them immune to lightning. I need your help, but before that, I need to test all of you to make certain none of you are the one that's possessed."

"What do you mean?" an angry voice said.

"I mean I'm going to shock all of you. There's little time for arguing." She motioned to what had just happened to prove her point.

'Start a lightning orb,' Amanita told her servant through their bond.

A portal of crossed lightning bolts appeared by the red, bony hand.

"This is crazy," another person yelled.

"I agree. But to show how serious I am, I'm standing right here, at the center of the blast zone." That seemed to amuse the fiend standing behind her. "All of you have a chance to help prevent a lot of death and destruction right here and now. So I am asking you to tough out a bit of shocking with me and then we can move on to testing everyone else. Are you with me?"

There was uncertainty among the group, but none could deny the current situation. Whether they were enthusiastic or not didn't matter. As long as they stood within range of the blast. "Gather up close together," Amanita instructed. She stood there, waiting until everyone had formed a tight group.

[659]
45 seconds
There is a quote from somewhere else in Memerosia's dialogue.
 
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