The Centre Cannot Hold

Some History

Dramatis Personae

Blondie is an expert infiltrator who specialises as a sniper. He customarily prefers to wear a Ghost morph and is outfitted with stealth gear and a rail sniper rifle. Blondie came to Firewall with a large gap in his memories and a lot of rep on the Eye, most of which related to redacted events during his Lack. On investigating his missing memories Blondie was told that they had been excised deliberately by Firewall, an action allegedly taken for his continued mental and emotional wellbeing.

Blondie is best known for his surly demeanour and ever-growing paranoia. In one of his first encounters with the new team of Sentinels he made a point of arriving 12 hours early and waiting in full stealth mode for the others to arrive, only revealing himself once the meeting had been convened.

When not acting on behalf of Firewall, Blondie devotes time to his personal projects. These include the construction of a small beehive habitat a few thousand kilometres away from Locus with fellow sentinel Oracle and the continuing development of an experimental piloting AI named Ice Man.

Blondie recently began to receive messages from an entity calling itself Omega, who claimed that Mister Poe had betrayed Blondie in the past and would do so again in the future.

Omega was ultimately able to persuade Blondie to accept a gift; his missing memories. The re-integration did not go according to plan and Blondie suffered severe mental trauma and damage to memories during the course of the merge.

He now remembers that Omega and Mister Poe were both Promethean members of Firewall, with Blondie and his team working under Omega. Blondie’s team came to suspect that Poe was actually a TITAN disguising himself as a Promethean and investigated. When Poe found out, Blondie’s original team was tortured and slain in a variety of unspeakable ways before their backups were deleted. For unknown reasons Poe kept a single fork of Blondie alive but insane.

Poe twisted the data such that Omega appeared to be the TITAN, forcing him to flee into deep space in order to avoid destruction at the hands of Firewall.

His world shaken, Blondie now distrusts both Poe and Omega, suspecting in the depths of his paranoia that both of them are TITANs and that they are playing some kind of monstrous game. He has told team members Oracle and Az-Tec of his suspicions and together they are cautiously investigating Mister Poe.

Oracle is an infiltrator and former infugee with an interest in ego-broking and infugee rights. Disgusted at the treatment of infugees by those lucky enough to escape or have sufficient wealth and backing at the time of the Fall to secure immediate instantiation, Oracle does what he can to support those still trapped in electronic limbo. He funds this work partially by selling the egos of captured enemies to his criminal contacts, the irony of which is not entirely lost on him.

Oracle is utterly pragmatic to the point of cruelty, caring little for the wellbeing of any individual he encounters in the course of a mission. He has also been known to create expendable forks of himself which he allowed to be heavily modified with psychosurgery to be fearless and satisfied with expendability. Finally he delights in literally consuming his enemies, though only by feeding them into the hopper of a cornucopia machine.

Habitually using a Ghost morph or Flexbot, Oracle specialises in hand-to-hand combat and ‘dirty tricks’.

Az-Tec is an AGI mesh security specialist and hacker. Comfortable with forking itself on the fly and whenever the situation demands it, it is not uncommon for it to temporarily replace the muses of other team-mates when they are likely to need expert hacking support during the course of a mission. While it is generally pleasant and friendly Az-Tec has demonstrated occasional bursts of extreme violence during times of frustration. It has also assisted in the capture by force of at least two space vessels and the sale of their crews into ego slavery without any qualms whatsoever. When not actively engaged on a Firewall mission or assisting Oracle and Blondie in their efforts to fit-out their Beehive habitat or investigate Mister Poe, Az-Tec sells home-made bread on Locus and works on new recipes.

Diego is a Fall survivor who made it into space with only his severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for company. With a strong skill set including mechanical engineering, electronics, hacking and combat ability he was able to make a living on Locus as a contributor to the security of the habitat. He is subscribed to the crowd-sourcing service that organises security sweeps and other services on and spends much of his time engaged in such operations.

Diego is the member of the team most likely to put himself in the line of danger in order to satisfy mission objectives and has experienced a number of grisly deaths as a result. He is also known for his construction of innovative weapon systems from commonly available parts. An example of this is a Scrapper’s Gel/Shock Round hybrid designed to paint the target with Scrapper’s Gel and then activate it.

Popper, AKA Dr. 21, is an AGI psychosurgeon, surgeon, medical specialist, hacker and genetic engineer. Dr. 21 is infamous as an “AGI gone bad” who performed illegal operations on a number of human victims (though Popper would call them “experimental subjects”). Rather than being deleted Dr. 21 was psychosurgically modified to have a complete mental block regarding his crimes. He was also forbidden to even acknowledge the existence of his behaviour limitations, preventing him from removing them.

As Dr.21 Popper runs a psychosurgery clinic on Locus. The clinic enjoys a sizable client base, largely made of anarchists who are not dissuaded by reports of the AGI’s previous crimes. Perhaps this is due to his obvious competence.

Ghost is a combat specialist who sleeves in a Reaper morph. His preferred combat tactics involve forking himself into all available cases or other synthmorphs to form an army of one. In his spare time Ghost runs a small brothel on Locus entirely staffed with forks of himself sleeved in various appropriate morphs. Keen to maintain a single identity despite his rampant forking, Ghost has a continuing arrangement with Dr. 21 for regular fork integration. Some suspect that Ghost’s mental stability is less than could be desired, possibly as a result of this habitual forking and merging.

Ghost has demonstrated an affinity for extreme violence.

Jason is an academic and Virtual Reality engineer with a specialism in real-time simulation. He is the most recent addition to the group and brings strategic and technical expertise to the team. He is sleeved in a custom Slitheroid morph with a number of innovative enhancements. He primarily assists the team by using remote surveillance and combat drones and in bypassing security with clever use of AR illusions.

Jason is fiercely intelligent and does not suffer fools gladly, making him seem arrogant or impatient at times.

Sample Missions

Operation Midgard

The team was dispatched to investigate a cargo hauler which had disappeared some days ago and then reappeared farther away than should have been possible in the time available. Boarding the ship revealed that the crew had become insane and physically altered, partially shifting in and out of solidity and visibility. It was theorised that parts of their bodies were transmuting into ‘dark matter’, or at least some kind of matter with which normal matter could not interact.

Initially suspected to be a manifestation of the Exsurgent virus, the situation on the ship was ultimately linked to an artefact of obviously alien construction that seemed to be composed of a similar material and which had been kludged into the ship’s systems.

The team decided to shut down the device, but did not succeed in doing so before it was activated by the freighter’s captain, causing the ship to be dragged through some kind of maddening substrate (similarly to a Pandora Gate) to the artefact’s point of origin; an exoplanet named Midgard.

The team pursued the captain to Midgard’s surface, where he was approaching some kind of alien crash site, and neutralised him. Then, to prevent the device from falling back into Gatekeeper’s hands the team ended up firing an escape pod bearing their egos and the alien artifact into deep space and then crashing the ship on Midgard’s gate complex.

Operation Seagull

The team was asked to investigate an anomalous signal being sent from an apparently normal asteroid somewhere not too far from Locus. Time was of the essence since other teams would also be en-route to investigate the notably alien signal.

On arriving they found that the asteroid had been concreted deliberately around a structure that was revealed to be an alien ship of some kind. The team breached the surface of the asteroid over what appeared to be an access hatch of some kind and made their way into the vessel.

Investigation revealed that the ship bore all the hallmarks of Iktomi architecture and design, primarily featuring radial symmetry. After a series of mishaps with the ship’s remaining automated security the team made their way to the “bridge”, where they found an inactive Iktomi specimen on some kind of medical couch. On their arrival a flat touch-sensitive monitor activated and displayed a simple geometry puzzle, the solving of which caused life-support systems plumbed into the Iktomi to activate, waking it from stasis.

Urgent attempts to communicate with the Iktomi were made, for the team knew they would need to do something to prevent the ship and its live specimen from falling into the hands of Project Ozma or one of the hypercorporations en-route to investigate the signal.

The Iktomi use an entirely pheromone-based communication method; this made communication in the first-contact scenario very difficult. As time ran out it was found that the Iktomi would not abandon the ship due to the fact that it held a large organic computer on which hundreds of Iktomi egos were being stored.

With no other options the team engaged in a race against time to transport the Iktomi vessel to a rendezvous with a Firewall salvage ship before it was found by anyone else. They were forced to fight off agents of Project Ozma in the course of this, but were ultimately successful at handing the ship, specimen and egos off to Firewall.

On their way back to Locus the group’s vessel suffered an “unexpected error in the fusion core”, causing it to explode and kill every member of the team.

Firewall kindly restored each of them from backup and resupplied them with equipment lost in gratitude for a job well done; it’s a shame that nobody knows what that job actually was.

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