Earthrise Campaign: Year 5
This page just covers the story in year 5 of the Earthrise campaign. For the rest of the story, see:
Session 66 (Played Jan. 12, 2012)
Excerpt from The Bodyhacker's Guide to Self-Modification:
If filling your body with metal isn't your thing, whether it just gives you the creeps or simply that you prefer to be more subtle, you may want a genetic transform. Genetic transforms use all-natural DNA (OK, so it's all-natural designed DNA) to rewrite your code and make you into the person you wish you'd been born as.
One minus of genetic transforms is that they can take a long time. Just because your body is now full of shiny new cat DNA doesn't mean you'll instantly sprout a cat tail. Depending on the mod, you will probably get a secondary cell division treatment to promote growth of the new feature. That means you have to wait weeks or longer while your tail grows, itching all the while.
A bigger problem is where to get one. Genetic transforms are largely illegal in the U.S., so if you want it all above board, head overseas. Brazil and India are popular genmod travel destinations. Also, prepare to bring a wad of cash - if you want a genetic transform done right, you'll have to pay through the nose, or probiscis, or whatever it is you've decided you want to breathe through. You didn't hear it here, but rumor has it you can get many genmods right here at home much cheaper. The results are sometimes less than reliable, however, so make sure to check the word of mouth on your neighborhood street clinic before transfection.
The heros look into various leads they have on the Defenders of Humanity, hoping to get further information about where to find them or how to counter their stolen virus. However, they make little obvious progress. Rico receives a message that a fan site for him has been set up, and views a personalized video on the private "elite" section of the site.
One morning, while watching TV, Catalyst sees a news bulletin that a passenger train approaching New York is under attack. The video feed shows Resolve, from the Elementals, chasing a tall blond woman on top of the train. Catalyst calls Quantum Warrior to teleport Rico, Feedback, and himself in front of the train so that they can intervene. Catalyst is able to match speed with the train and Quantum Warrior can teleport onto it safely. Rico lifts Feedback and together they try to drop onto the roof of the train, but have some trouble holding on. Eventually, with some help from Quantum Warrior, they manage to get their grip.
Meanwhile, Rage and Insight have surrounded the blond woman inside the train. Catalyst, Feedback, and Quantum Warrior fight the two Elementals, while the woman climbs back up on the roof, where Rico fights Resolve. Charm intercepts her, but she manages to escape, now with Insight also in pursuit. Rage knocks out Feedback, sending him flying out of the train, and begins to slug it out with Catalyst and Quantum Warrior. The blond woman jumps off the back of the train, and is chased there by Insight and Resolve, who has disengaged from her fight with Rico. Catalyst wears down Rage and eventually takes him down, while Quantum Warrior goes to rescue the Elementals' prey. Rico encounters Charm, who forces him to shoot himself. Luckily, his armor protects him, but the shot knocks him out. The heros and the Elementals go their separate ways to recover.
Session 67 (Played Jan. 26, 2012)
Hue and Cry announces a new show "Beyond Form" by acclaimed artist Hope Mayfell. "Beyond Form" will transport you into a world without shape or form, allowing you to experience life as a beam of light or the flames of a fire.
"Beyond Form" is open from Friday, February 27, 2060 until Thursday, March 18. Hours are 10 AM - 8 PM Monday-Thursday, 10 AM - 10 PM Friday and Saturday, closed Sunday.
The woman rescued from the Elementals is named Hope Mayfell, a former member of the group. She explains that the Elementals are after her because they want her to give them the design for her face-shifting genetic modification, presumably to enable them to hide better from the authorities. She refused and fled to New York, but the Elementals caught up with her on the train. The heros suggest she can stay at the base for the time being. However, later that evening Hope receives a call from her boyfriend Brian. The Elementals have contacted him and use him to convey a veiled threat.
The Elementals' message indicates they want Hope to meet them at Brian's gallery in Washington DC the following night. The heros travel to Washington, preparing to assault the Elementals and rescue Brian. Catalyst goes early to the gallery to scout, but he is spotted by the Elementals, who are waiting in the back room. He flees into the building and grabs Brian. Brian, under Charm's command, resists fruitlessly, and a bystander captures Catalyst's action on camera. Catalyst flies out through the ceiling, but after attacks by Insight, Resolve, and Rage, he is knocked unconscious. Brian, badly injured, is retrieved by Resolve, and Catalyst manages barely to escape.
Shaken by the close call, Hope agrees to turn over the design to the Elementals, and they make a trade. Brian is sent to get medical attention at the heros' base. Meanwhile, Alyssa Hart and Feedback have planted a radio beacon built into the envelope Hope's design is in, modified to stay quiet for one hour. Using it, they track the Elementals to the mountains of West Virginia, about a mile from the road.
Session 68 (Played Feb. 10, 2012)
Patient file summary, New Life clinic, New Delhi:
Name: Hope Mayfell
The heros head into the mountains after the Elementals. They find the envelope with the tracking device at a bend in the trail between a bluff and a ravine. The Elementals are waiting there in ambush. The battle starts off with some ineffective long-range attacks. Feedback and Catalyst close with Rage and Insight. Feedback gets the worst of an exchange with Insight and is knocked out while Catalyst slugs it out with Rage. Charm attempts to sneak up on the others, but Rico intercepts him. Charm fails to mind control Quantum Warrior and ends up fighting both Rico and Hope. He manages to paralyze Hope with fear, but Rico grabs him and drags him away from the others. Alyssa brings Resolve to ground with her glue gun, and puts her in a joint lock, but Resolve manages to knock out Alyssa with her laser eye. Meanwhile, Insight takes on Catalyst while Rage gets slowed more and more by Quantum Warrior, eventually becoming immobile. Feedback recovers enough to attack Rage, in the process starting a forest fire with his thermal burst. Catalyst just barely manages to take out Insight, but while he refocuses on taking down Rage, Resolve grabs Insight and flies off. Charm manages to escape down the ravine. The PCs do capture Rage, however, and turn him over to Alyssa.
Session 69 (Played March 15, 2012)
New York Times, Wednesday, March 2, 2060:
Super Tuesday Widens Leads for Thompson, Rodriguez:
The outcome of yesterday's primary elections in 15 states gave Governor Vincent Rodriguez a commanding lead in the Democratic primary election, while Vice President Sam Thompson gained more ground over Senator Jim Nelson in the Republican primary. Congressman Sandra Toul has scheduled a press conference at 2 PM today and is expected to announce that she will drop out of the race. Senator Nelson has already vowed to fight on.
Rage is turned over to the FBI. The heros ask Hope to track down a post-human geneticist who might be willing to help them against the Defenders' bioweapon. Hope also does some investigation on her own. Her sister Ruby, who works at a PR firm working with Senator Nelson's presidential campaign, noticed him in a suspicious holo-meeting. Nelson is speaking at a rally near New York City, and the heros decide to investigate him while he is in town. They begin by hacking into his local campaign office and extracting their database of local donors, campaign staff, and potential voters. They leave in place a temporary monitoring program, hoping to catch him in another holo-conference, but without luck.
Feedback and Quantum Warrior attend a rally by Warchild rights activists at Nelson's speech. Rico and Alyssa are assigned to help the police in case of trouble by the Warchildren. Tempers flare as the Warchildren there, on edge due to rumors about a bioengineered Warchild-killing disease, confront Nelson's supporters. One Warchild loses his temper and badly burns the man taunting him. This sparks a larger brawl. The heros try to get things back under control, eventually succeeding when Feedback uses his psychomagnetic burst to knock out the people fighting, as well as some nearby police.
Session 70 (Played April 11, 2012)
Excerpt from a speech by Senator Jim Nelson, March 24, 2060:
"Last week, Warchildren rioted at one of my speeches, badly injuring some innocent attendees. This goes to show how dangerous the situation is, and how needed is further legislation to protect normal folk. This incident shows what extremes they are willing to go to stop us, but we will not be cowed! I swear to you, I will continue to speak loud and clear when I see a danger to humanity, no matter who tries to stop me. And when I'm elected president, I will do whatever it takes to make sure humans will not lose their place on this planet!"
The heros continue to investigate Senator Nelson. They break into the computers of his main campaign office and download information about his donor database and meetings. They also break into the records of the lawyer who handled the bail hearings for Blue Lightning and Whiplash, and download client and financial data, as well as information about appointments relevant to the two cases.
Hope contacts them again. She has located a geneticist who might be willing to help them, a post-human named Unfolding Horizon. He is currently in isolation at a monastery in Nepal, so Rico, Quantum Warrior, and Feedback go to visit him there. He is currently in a coccoon metamorphosing, but would perhaps be willing to aid the heros starting in a few weeks. However, he indicates he will likely need a sample of the Kenyan Plague, and insists first that the heros prove they can protect him. They face three monks skilled in martial arts, and defeat them without too much trouble.
Session 71 (Played May 9, 2012)
New York Times, Tuesday, March 30, 2060:
Conspiracy Theories Fuel Warchild Tensions
Rumors about a deadly genetically engineered plague have played a major role in the recent slew of riots by Warchildren. Many in the Warchild community believe that a secret society is preparing to unleash a deadly plague to wipe them out. Contrary rumors have also been circulating that the secret society plans to eliminate everyone not a Warchild. Public health officials and law enforcement officials deny there is any truth to the rumors. Following the first news stories yesterday about the rumors, however, many pharmacies report heavy sales of over-the-counter and prescription anti-viral medications.
Quantum Warrior has been having some trouble teleporting correctly, an indication of further dimensional anomalies. The heros set up some monitoring equipment worldwide and send a message to Mereth Panal Poppa asking for help. Feedback and Quantum Warrior begin to go through big donors to Jim Nelson's campaign, looking for people with poor information security. They discover a few people who have also donated to the Defenders of Humanity, one of whom additionally leased a warehouse in Los Angeles for the Defenders' use. The heros go there to investigate. However, the warehouse is a trap, with crates full of explosives which go off as they examine them. Quantum Warrior's attempt to teleport them out is interrupted by the explosion, causing something to go wrong.
They wake up in the warehouse after an unknown time unconscious, with all their minor electronics destroyed. They attempt to teleport back to the base, but are instead bounced to Lady Dusk's lawn above the base. As they try to determine what's wrong, Lady Dusk and two combat robots confront them. She attacks, accusing them of being terrorists. Feedback is captured, but Quantum Warrior and Rico escape.
Feedback ascertains that Lady Dusk thinks the three of them are criminals and have been for some time. Wanderer appears and talks to Quantum Warrior and Rico. He confirms that they are in a parallel universe, and that the dimensional anomalies in their home universe were caused by the dimensional nexus in Olympus Mons on Mars. It was improperly opened and not closed. Quantum Warrior and Rico teleport to Feedback, grab him, and escape. They retreat to a hotel in a small town in Canada to check the news archives. They learns that in this world, their counterparts, as well as Catalyst and Kit, have been wanted for around 10 months for terrorism and attacks on government facilities.
Session 72 (Played July 25, 2012)
Los Angeles Times, Monday, April 12, 2060:
Illicit explosives destroy warehouse
An explosion destroyed a warehouse near the port shortly after a blackout hit the area early this morning. Police theorize the blackout may have somehow triggered the explosion of an illicit stockpile of explosives held in a warehouse there. No one was hurt. Police are currently trying to identify the owner of the explosives.
Los Angeles Times, Monday, April 12, 2060:
Mysterious explosion triggers massive blackouts
Roughly 50,000 homes remain without power after the blackout that hit a quarter of the city early this morning. Edison officials say the blackout was apparently caused by a power surge coming from the warehouse district, shortly after a warehouse mysteriously exploded. Police indicate that there is no explosives residue in the destroyed warehouse and had no immediate explanation of the cause.
Catalyst flies to Los Angeles to investigate the disappearance of the other heros. Once there, he feels a tugging at the site of the explosion and using his dimensional travel power, follows them through and makes contact with the other heros. They spend most of the day preparing disguises and going to Detroit to track down components to synthesize Feedback's metabolic accelerators. In the middle of the night, they spot SWEAT gravcopters and troops arriving, and quickly teleport out to another small town.
The following day, they call up Tommy Scalia, who in this world returned to running a tourism agency for aliens after the hero group was broken up. He lets them know Jack was in charge of the crack-down, so they contact Jack and explain the situation. Jack agrees to help them provided they aid him in tracking down their doubles. He sets them up with an FBI apartment in New York, and suggests they stay there to prevent possible confusion with their alter egos.
Session 73 (Played Sep. 5, 2012)
Cutaway, Tuesday, April 13, 2060:
As the parley in Central Park breaks up, a single figure remains, unseen to any present. After a few minutes, Feedback steps back into the trees and speaks, "They're gone." Quantum Warrior and Rico appear momentarily.
"They claim to be from another universe," begins Feedback. "They ended up here accidentally. Is that possible?"
"Theoretically," says Quantum Warrior, "but it would have to be a very strange accident."
"I still think they are duplicates, and this is the set-up to some sort of trap," says Feedback.
"Either way," responds Quantum Warrior, "we can't afford to ignore this."
Feedback asks Jack for handheld computer, and programs it to prepare an attack on the alternate Feedback while defending, as best he can, against a similar attack from his double. Feedback deactivates the device's tracking and logging functions while he enters the programs, then re-activates them.
The following morning, a message comes in to the safe house. It is signed "Quantum Warrior" and gives a location and a time, 2 minutes in the future. The heros teleport there, finding themselves in the middle of a field with a loudspeaker. The alternate universe versions of Feedback, Rico, and Quantum Warrior appear in the distance and give them some more coordinates, which turn out to be in the middle of a ruined Mayan city. Once again, the alternates are a distance away.
The groups converse by loudspeaker. The alternate universe versions of the heros claim the government turned against them first. Specifically, they claim that SWEAT has been brainwashing people to serve them, but refuse to give more details until the heros can prove that they are really from an alternate universe. The conversation is interrupted by a surprise attack when Sidestep comes through a wormhole with Jack, Human Force, and a SWEAT agent in powered armor. The heros rush towards the battle, but by the time they arrive, it is largely over, with Jack and his allies triumphant. Jack takes the alternate versions into custody and indicates that he will make sure the heros are not troubled any more by the authorities here, but suggests they stay in the safe house to avoid confusion until they can figure out how to return home.
Session 74 (Played Sep. 18, 2012)
Advertisement, running April 1-23, 2060:
The Mars of Your Dreams!
Travel to Mars in style aboard the Barsoom! Spend the trip in luxury en route, in this lushly appointed cruise ship. Decorated to evoke the Mars of legend, you will be pampered in every way. Delicious food, zero-G sports, Olympic-sized pool, exercise rooms, live entertainment, and much, much more. Then spend two weeks exploring the Red Planet. Next trip departs April 23, return June 20.
The heros do some more investigation of their doubles' allegations about SWEAT, but are unable to confirm or deny them. With financial assistance from Lady Dusk, they board a cruise spaceship to Mars, based on rumors of a dimensional nexus in Olympus Mons. The trip is uneventful, but they arrive on Mars with little clear idea of how to find the nexus. They travel to a research base near Olympus Mons pretending to be part of a tour group, and a little poking around suggests there are occasional secret supply flights to a nearby base, but are unable to determine its exact location. Searching the caldera of the volcano eventually turns up the base, but as they approach it, they are spotted by the base's residents.
They negotiate with the head of the base, eventually referring him to Jack back on Earth to establish their bona fides as refugees from an alternate universe rather than their wanted criminal doubles from this one. They begin to discuss how they can get through the nexus back home when Wanderer appears.
Session 75 (Played Oct. 2, 2012)
Flashback, December 2, 2059:
Three people sat up choking from where they lay in a thick layer of fine red dust. Faint lights from far overhead illuminated a huge cavern, mostly filled with large silent machinery. "What happened?" asked one, a man with a thick black beard.
"We must have been pulled through the portal when it opened," responded the other man, taller and thinner.
"We're alive," observed the bearded man.
"Yes," agreed the woman, shaking the dust out of her blonde hair. "The air here is breathable." She sniffed. "Stale, but breathable. It must be close to Earth mix."
The tall man had been looking around the chamber. "Guys ... I think those machines are turning on."
With some advice from Wanderer, the heros open the portal from the alternate Mars. They end up in a much-larger portal chamber, where they are attacked by two tyrannosauruses armed with blasters. A third dinosaur, an iguanodon, is working on the machinery in the room. They defeat the two tyrannosaurs and try to communicate with the iguanodon. They share no common language, but the dinosaur indicates by gestures that there are more tyrannosaurs to the north, and that they should leave by the south exit.
Feedback, arming himself with one of the dinosaurs' blasters, attempts to scout invisibly down the north corridor. Another tyrannosaur smells him and chases him back to the others, who defeat it, but not before it sets off on alarm. During the fight, it points some sort of device at Feedback and presses a button, to its obvious frustration when the device has no effect.
They then promptly leave through the other exit, finding another machine room with multiple exits. One leads to a large cavern with some daylight visible at the far end, a second to another guard post, and a third to a long corridor. As they consider doubling back towards the portal chamber, a group of 4 tyrannosaurs comes on them. Again they manage to defeat the dinosaurs, Quantum Warrior taking a very serious bite during the battle. Feedback tries the device captured from the dinosaurs on one of the tyrannosaurs, but it has no more apparent effect on it than it did on him.
Session 76 (Played Oct. 16, 2012)
Standing Directive from His Most Ferocious Majesty, Emperor of Tooth and Claw, Tyrannosaurus Imperator:
Creatures coming through the portal must not be allowed to roam the complex. 2 troopers will be on duty and alert to intrusions at all times. If any arriving creatures are too powerful to be devoured immediately, the guards must activate the alarm. Punishment for dereliction of this duty is disembowelment.
The heros return to the portal chamber to examine the machines there and see if they can get them working. They determine that the machines are designed to draw energy through the nexus from a parallel universe. They cut a power line heading north, but leave the ones south intact. They start trying to repurpose the equipment to let them scan through the nexus and try to locate other universes with dimensional anomalies, but are interrupted by an attack by two more tyrannosauruses with an ankylosaurus with various weapons implants.
They suffer severely from the missiles fired from the ankylosaurus's tail, and Rico is captured. The others retreat south into the room with machinery. There they clash again with the ankylosaurus and one of the tyrannosaurs. They discover that the remote they captured earlier can set off an implanted bomb in the ankylosaurus, killing it instantly. They defeat the remaining tyrannosaurus and regroup to try to rescue Rico. Heading north from the portal chamber, Quantum Warrior, Catalyst, and Feedback encounter a guard post with two tyrannosaurs, who they knock out.
Session 77 (Played Oct. 30, 2012)
Notes of the Chief Scientist of the Empire of Tooth and Claw:
The biochemistry of the humans incontrovertibly pins them as coming from Earth, most closely related to some species of vermin. Apparently in the history of their Earth, our entire order somehow became extinct, perhaps as a result of a war, allowing the vermin to evolve to fill various vacant niches, although not nearly as well as dinosaurs.
Nevertheless, the Imperator has determined the humans have some use for the Empire. They are sufficiently clever to work with advanced technology, and can serve as emissaries to the rest of their kind during the conquest. Their small size may make them particularly well-suited for certain maintenance tasks that involve reaching into small spaces. So far, standard slave protocols appear sufficient to keep control of them.
Rico is questioned telepathically by the Tyrannosaurus Imperator, who wants to know where Rico came from and why he came through the portal. The questioning then goes on to the capabilities of his friends, and trying to gain information about some human soldiers.
Meanwhile, the other heros explore down the corridor beyond the guard post, trying to locate Rico. However, they are attacked by another group of dinosaurs, this one led by a more skilled tyrannosaurus with armor and a faceplate giving him tactical advice. Catalyst, Quantum Warrior, and Feedback are all captured and brought before the Tyrannosaurus Imperator as well.
The Imperator begins questioning Feedback, but Feedback is uncooperative, trying to attack the dinosaur with his powers despite being held firmly. The tyrannosaurus has his guards wake Catalyst and Quantum Warrior so they can watch as he mortally wounds Feedback with his powerful bite and flings him against the wall. The Imperator makes the message explicit: obey him or die. Catalyst and Quantum Warrior use their powers to flee, leaving Rico a captive and Feedback dying.
Session 78 (Played Nov. 12, 2012)
Flashback, Dec. 2, 2059:
Three humans, two men and a woman, sprawl in the thick dust on the floor of a large chamber. They look up to see a gigantic tyrannosaur approaching. Two more, smaller but still immense in size, stand behind them. The large dinosaur pins the taller man to the floor with its enormous foot and bends over to stare him in the eye. Words echo in the man's mind. <<What are you?>>
Catalyst and Quantum Warrior meet and flee south, deciding to explore the southern areas further. Eventually, they find their way into a manufacturing room and fail to communicate with two iguanodons there. Quantum Warrior goes back in time to shortly after the heros arrived in order to get her bearings in time and find out how long she was unconscious. However, the dimensional anomalies interfere with her time travel and stick to her. After about 15 minutes, she is pulled involuntarily backwards in time about a year. She finds herself in the portal room of a human base much like the one from the alternate universe. She uses the devices there to scan herself and try to figure out what caused her to travel involuntarily. She also discusses her situation with some of the researchers there, partially explaining what has happened to her recently, but not her powers.
The conversation is interrupted when she is pulled through time again. She now finds herself in the ruins of the human base's lounge, connected to a dinosaur-sized storeroom. Looking out of the storeroom, she attracts the attention of a dinosaur guard in the portal chamber, who shoots at her. She escapes by teleporting inside the human base's elevator, which is unpowered but otherwise intact.
Catalyst waits for Quantum Warrior to return but is forced to move when a patrol of tyrannosaurs enters the machine room. Dinosaurs enter his new hiding place as well, so he continues fleeing. Eventually, he manages to hide in a large room filled with vegetation. However, when he sees Rico being carried by 2 tyrannosaurs, Catalyst decides to attack them. He succeeds in defeating them and rescuing Rico, but they must quickly leave the room to avoid reinforcements called by the dinosaurs. They flee north and eventually locate a room containing one of the dinosaur leaders and the heros' equipment. They attack the tyrannosaur by surprise, but after a close battle, he is still able to defeat them, knocking them both out.
Session 79 (Played Dec. 11, 2012)
SWEAT contact report, May 21, 2060:
At 15:37, Squad 43 on recon duty in sector 17 made mutual visual contact with a group of 7 hostiles, consisting of 4 tyrannosaurs, 1 ankylosaur, and 2 pterosaurs as scouts. Squad 43 retreated and called for reinforcements, but hostile group pursued with engagement predicted before backup arrived. However, pursuit broke off at 15:58 and hostile group retreated towards base.
Catalyst and Rico wake up with bombs in their head among a group of human slaves. Three of the slaves are scientists and seven are captured soldiers. The scientists explain that when they tried to open the portal, they were pulled through and captured by the dinosaurs, who forced them to bring the dinosaurs back through the nexus to the humans' home universe. Now the dinosaurs are fighting human soldiers for control of Mars. Life as a slave consists of menial tasks for the tyrannosaurs. They go all around the dinosaur complex, but escorted by a tyrannosaur guard who has a remote to set off their bombs if they misbehave. Furthermore, the other slaves explain that the Tyrannosaurus Imperator has a master remote that can explode the bombs at a distance; this has been the death of former slaves that tried to escape.
Catalyst sneaks out at night and tries to travel to an alternate dimension, hoping that is out of range of the remote. He makes it to the caldera, which is guarded by large anti-vehicle lasers, and manages to dodge some pteranodons and make the transition. In the alternate universe, he is met by Wanderer, who removes the bomb from his head and shows him how to return home. He sneaks back into the slave quarters.
Quantum Warrior teleports around the dinosaur complex, which seems to be less developed than in her original time. She manages to avoid capture and scavenges some supplies from the medical supply room. She is pulled backwards through time again and manages a brief conversation with the scientists in the human base before time travelling involuntarily once more. She finds herself in the human base, but abandoned. She makes her way up the elevator shaft with a combination of teleportation and climbing and explores the upper level of the human base. She finds some armor and life support equipment but has to avoid an entropy monster lurking in the base.
Quantum Warrior is then ready to travel to the surface of Mars, and after a series of teleports, returns to Hellas Station. There, she finally finds people. Mars is being evacuated of tourists and has lost touch with Earth. They know that something has happened near Olympus Mons, but are not sure what. She time travels again and ends up on the day the portal was first opened. She only has a few minutes there before there is a bright flash in the sky and a wave of dimensional anomalies passes through her, catapulting her back to the present day.