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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hiatus - Intentional this time

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who reads our story for their support.  The ages of Myst and all that followed have been an incredible source of inspiration throughout my life and I have been happy to give back through this project.  For a universe with infinite possibilities and a community that revels in those details, this project has been a labor of love.

That said, we are going on a brief hiatus.  For those who didn't see our announcement over at the Guild of Messengers, be sure we are not resting on our laurels.  During this break we will be working to further develop our story.  Volume 1 of our second story is complete, but there is much to be told.  We hope you stick with us as we strive to bring you the best story we can.

This break will also give us time to complete work on our anticipated TCaB: KI Logs project where we have polished our earlier material for publication in PDF format as The Cleft and Below: The Third Journeyer.  We hope the re-release of our first story arc will be well received by those who have been with us from the beginning as well as being a portal for those who are looking to join our adventure.

Lastly, we hope to host TCaB Live! some time this summer.  For those who do not know, TCaB Live! is the title of our live reading of the story so far.  It is our wish to bring life to The Third Journeyer in a Kirel near you.  Watch the MOULa forums for more information as this develops.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mark Loren - Aftermath

Gahreesen was empty; save Eric, Steven and myself.  Just minutes ago the second building had been packed with explorers.  They quickly disbanded after the Wall race.  The discovery in the Maintainer's nexus was kept silent.  Artus and I related the finding to Steven once the crowd had dispersed.

Artus didn't stick around.  He looked sick.  He was uncharacteristically quiet as we waited for Steven to return with Eric.  I expected him to brag; it had been a close race, but he remained nauseatingly silent.  I turned to him trying to think of the right words.  I wanted to say something to break the cold silence of Gahreesen.

He finally spoke.  "I… I gotta go."  He reltoed.  Steven and Eric returned moments later.

"Is it true?"  Eric asked.  There was something boiling under his skin.

"Yeah, I was with him when we found it.". I tried to read his expression.  "You just missed him."

Steven opened his KI and studied the image I had sent him.  "This is far more elaborate than what we saw before in Eder Gira.”

"Listen to me."  Eric's voice trembled as he spoke.  "This is just a sick joke.  It was Artus."

“What are you talking about?" Steven was trying to be patient.  "You saw his reaction when Torri found the symbol in Eder Gira.  We asked him then if he had planted the symbol.  He didn't plant it; and don’t forget: he was as scared as Torri.  He couldn’t stop shaking."  Steven responded.

Eric’s eyes tightened as he brought the palm of his hand to his forehead.  “Can’t you see, it was just an act!"

"How can you be so sure, Eric?”  I said.  “There’s no way he could have planted the symbol in the Maintainer’s Nexus.”  I looked around.  “He would have had to sneak through the Maintainer’s Tube, up the Wall, and linked into the Maintainer’s Nexus without you, Steven, myself or any of the dozens of other explorers who gathered noticing.”

Eric started walking.  “If he did this I'll make him confess."  Eric walked out of the equipment room; the mechanisms of the heavy doors hissed and moved aside.  “Torri deserves better than this.  We deserve better than this.”  He left and the doors closed behind him.

A quick look to Steven mirrored my thoughts exactly.  When we caught up with Eric, he was already on the outer platform of Gahreesen; waiting for the rotation to reach the Yeesha cloth.  "Wait a minute.  Lets just cool off for a moment”  He stopped.  “If you’re right, then I want to get to the bottom of this as much as anyone else.”  I paused.  “But if you’re wrong,” Eric looked back at me.  “If you’re wrong, there could be something else happening.  Whether it be a prank, or who knows what, we need to consider all the possibilities.

“At the very least, He could have stayed to straighten things out.”  Eric was understandably frustrated.  “Now I don’t know what to think.”  After a brief silence he linked out and soon after Steven and I went our separate ways.

I walked to the edge of the walkway and sat letting my legs dangle.  It had been a long day.  Laying back I stared into the Gahreesen sky.  The pale gray blue of the sky was partially obscured by cloud cover.  I closed my eyes and listened to the low rumble of the turning buildings, the sound of water below and the sounds of wildlife around me.  There was a lot to think about.

I opened my KI to review the image I had taken earlier.  Steven was right: it was far more elaborate than the one we found in Eder Gira.  Apart from that, this image had been projected from the panel, meaning, whoever was responsible must have manipulated the lattice somehow.  I returned to the image and lost myself in the design.

My KI flashed, shaking me out of my study.  It was a message from Flora.

Hurry to the Watcher’s Pub.  They may shut down the link soon.

I stood up; linked to Relto; and to the Nexus.  As I navigated the panel before me I could see the cavern populations fluctuating across regions.  Ae’gura was dropping in numbers.  The Watcher’s Pub was filling up.  I made my selection, called the book, and linked.

The nexus swirled and faded giving way to cold lighting of blue and yellow stone.  The Watcher’s pub was indeed full of people.  My focus was drawn to a pair of explorers: one sitting on the shoulders of the other to see the center of the room.  I looked around.  Flora found me and lead me around to the crowd and up the stairs for a clear view.

As we moved through the crowd she spoke, but her voice was drowned out by the other voices.  She pulled me beside her after climbing the stairs to the first landing.  Only then did I catch her words.  “Something is happening in this cavern.”  She was certain, only stating it to see if I agreed.  I looked away from her and finally to what had drawn so many people

I opened my KI to the image I had taken in the the Maintainer’s Nexus earlier that day.  I showed it to her.  I nodded.  “The symbols match.”

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Jessie Pollick - Kahlo

Jessie Pollock seemed unreasonably calm as we waited for the signal.  I couldn't help but continually check my KI.  The plan was not without faults.  D'veetah was a wild card and one that we would need to keep an eye on.  If she suspected our intentions there is no doubt she would throw a wrench into our plan.

I opened my KI.  There was the message from David Farewell.  He wouldn't be joining us, but would be working behind the scenes.  I wasn't sure how he planed to facilitate the necessary distraction if he wasn't here.  Perhaps it was better this way.  One thing less to draw D'veeta's suspicion.

"Any idea what he has planned?" I asked.  We were seated at a table in Kahlo pub.  Jessie Pollick leaned back and gazed at the light shining through the hole in the ceiling behind him.

"He said we'd know it when we see it."  How was he so calm?  My own curiosity brought me here, but surely his motivations were stronger; and yet, he seemed to be somewhere else.

Voices came from down the hall and entered the pub.  Five explorers congregated around the bar and began conversing along with the occasional drink order.  "You'll know it when you see it.”  I took a deep breath.  “I hope They notice it too.”

The gathering behind us swelled with laughter and before long the five had grown to ten and then twenty.  Who knew Kahlo had become such a popular hangout?  It would be rude not to mingle; if we were to wait, might as well try to relax.  Jessie Pollick was blending in easily enough.  I guess he needed to get out more than I did; after all, he had been exploring this mystery longer than either of us.

Music began streaming into the pub.  A D'niJ had set up by the store room and was well on her way to getting the crowd dancing.

“Ill wind blows the road to go.  How many times we've told you so
No rhyme or reason.  No way to make it easy 'til it's done
So you cross onto the other side of the street
Should know better but you keep turning up the heat”

The D'niJ took a break after her five song set and spoke over the PA to the gathered explorers.  "Lemme tell you: you've been awesome tonight.  To the guy in the back: keep that funky Bahro boogie going."  The crowd laughed.  "Up next I'm gonna slow things down before we get heated up again."  A few wayward cheers.  "D'ni.  You rock.”

 I crossed the crowd finding Jessie Pollick leaning against one of the great fallen stones that cut off the pub from the back.  He cut his conversation short and walked to me.  "This is part one."  What?  My look of confusion led him to elaborate.  "Explorers will be drawn here, but the ResEng..."

Beat.  I got it.  "David Farwell?"

Jessie Pollick nodded and we walked toward the exit. "We'll leave the explorers to their gathering."

"Part one, eh?" I mused as we walked down the hall toward the Great stair.  "Then, part two should begin any minute now."

We stood at the landing looking down the stairs to Takotah II and the docks beyond.  The ResEng sat by his tent working in his KI.  They always seemed preoccupied with their KIs.  I checked my KI again.  David Farwell was in his Bevin.  What exactly was he planning?

Two ResEngs emerged from the building and spoke with the one at the tent who jumped to his feet.  They ran down the stairs toward the docks.  Jessie Pollick rapped his knuckles on the railing. "That's our cue.”  He vaulted over the rail and jogged toward the unguarded Takotah.

I followed.  Jessie was already inside the building by the time I reached the tent.  What could have drawn the ResEngs so quickly?  I peered over the rail toward the dock.  The three ResEngs surrounded a flickering hologram that seemed to be speaking to someone not present.  Kakhki pants and a blue vest.  It was Dr Watson!  I turned and hurried into the building.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mark Loren - The Wall

“Are you sure we all have to wear these suits?”  Eric Gibson looked rather uncomfortable in his

maintainer's suit.  He struggled with the helmet and took a deep breath once he got it off.

“Aww, come on.”  Vinsce walked into the room from the hallway.  “It’s all in the spirit of fun.”  He donned his helmet and walked into the Maintainer’s Tube.

Eric scoffed.  “Can you believe this guy?”  Eric set his helmet on the relic maintainer’s suit before heading toward the console in the training room.  I still needed to suit up.

I walked out of the equipment room and took a left toward the other training room.  The heavy stone that made up the hallways maintained the silence that grew after The Fall.  Even after being host to countless explorers the silence of these halls could not be touched.

"Mark." I looked up to see Flora stepping through the heavy door from the observation room.  "You'd better hurry," she laughed a little as she spoke.  "Vinsce is already in the pit."

"Yeah, I saw him head down."

"Shall we?". I nodded and we continued toward the training room.

"Have you heard anything from Torri?"  Flora asked.  I was a little surprised at the question.

"No.  Not really."  I thought to myself.  I haven't really seen her since that night in Eder Gira.

"Me neither."  In just a few moments Flora had gone from her usual cheerful self to being pensive and muted.  "I tried to invite her to the race today, but she never replied to my KI mail."

"Maybe she's just gotten tied up on the surface?" I offered hopefully.

"Maybe..."  Flora opened her KI.  "I guess that's possible, but I sent that message three days ago."  She looked worried.  I had heard that Torri and Flora had met once on the surface, but more than that I was unsure just how close they were.

"Hey, don't you.."

"Come on.  What's the hold up?"  Steven Petersen had come out of the control room.  His voice was muffled by the helmet.

"I'll be there in a moment."  Steven made like he couldn't hear very well and waved before turning back into the control room.  "I think he's got his helmet on a little tight."  Flora cracked a smile, waved, and ran back toward the observation room.  That's a relief.  She had me worried for a moment.

I passed through the training room and patted Steven on the back before getting suited up.  I stepped into the Maintainer’s Tube, doned my maintainer's suit and dropped into the pit.

I climbed the ladder and looked around.  I saw Flora amidst a crowd through the conference room window to my right.  I thought Pam would be with her.  The other conference room was packed.  I opened my KI and sent Artus a message.  Good luck.  A moment later my KI flashed.

Good luck to you too.  You’ll need it.

Eric started the countdown on the speakers, “3, 2, 1, Go!”

I started my climb.  <<Mark, can you hear me?>>  A voice came through my helmet.  I reached forward and continued to pull myself up the wall.

“Is that you Steven?” I asked.  Thoughts began crawling through my mind.  How exactly did I get chosen to climb?  I’m not certain this is my sport.  Steven responded.

<<We’re gonna win this one.  You hear me?>>  He sounded determined.  I didn’t want to let him down.  I reached up again and before I knew it found myself falling to the floor.  I flailed and caught my hand on the catwalk preventing my crashing into the hard stone floor.  <<Mark! Are you alright?>>  I pulled myself up and got to my feet.  <<That was the first marker.  Artus should be reaching the nasty trap I left him soon.>>  My hands were still shaking from the fall.

“I’m not sure I can do this.”

<<You’ll be fine.>>  Steven’s voice was steady and reassuring.  <<That suit you’re wearing was made to take more of a beating than that.>>  As I thought about it, the fall had caught me off guard; but I wasn’t injured.  I had expected my shoulder to be wrenched from catching myself the way I did, but I felt quite comfortable - aside from a mild nausea from the fall.  I placed my hands on the wall and began my ascent again.  <<I’ll keep track of blocker locations and try to guide you through this.>>

“Got it.”  I felt a thud through solid wall.  Artus must have taken quite a fall.  Inevitably I fell, and each time, Steven made a mark as to it’s location.  Before long, the end was in my reach.  I had to be careful.  There had been 20 blockers set for this course; yet I had only ran into 12 of them.  One wrong move and I would be sent plummeting back to the floor.

<<You’ll have to play it safe.>>  Steven must have been thinking the same thing I was.  <<If I were Eric, I would have placed the final bumpers around the most direct route to the linking panel.  Looks like you’ll have to go around.>>

I agreed, “Better to take my time, than to have to start over again.”  I climbed carefully to the side.  Looking up and to my left I could see my goal.  Just a few more paces.

Two paces up.  Now, just to slide over to the finish line.  I reached out my hand and heard a linking sound and closed my eyes.  My hand kept moving.  I opened my eyes and saw the Wall before me as my hand moved to touch the linking panel.  He beat me.  Artus beat me.  I linked.

I watched as the world around me warped and twisted, leaving a darkness that faded into the elevator shaft of the Maintainer’s Nexus..  Artus stood next to me.  “Good game,” Artus said as the platform began to rise.  “I gotta hand it to Steven.  He almost got me.”  He looked back to me.  “Aw, come on.”  He nudged my shoulder.  “You almost had it.  Next time for sure.”  He chuckled to himself and removed his helmet.

As the elevator platform reached the top of the shaft I struggled to get my helmet off.  “Mark…”  I heard Artus falter.

“What’s wrong?”  I finally pulled my helmet off and looked around the room.  Artus stood two steps from me; his eyes fixed on the panel before him.  I looked around him and saw a glowing spiral.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Jessie Pollick - Plots and Puzzles

Takotah alley. Usually empty, but the same cannot be said about the plaza it empties into. Takotah Plaza is quite possibly the busiest and most trafficked area of the cavern. It is host to a wide range of explorers from all over the world. Some live here in the cavern. Others just pass through.

The plaza gets its name from two if the surrounding buildings: Takotah and Takotah II. Years ago, the DRC took up residence in Takotah and every now and then explorers can be seen scaling the building as they try to sneak into the old offices. Takotah II is different.

Consisting of a series of interconnected buildings, Takotah II was inhabited by various explorers following the closing of the cavern under Cate Alexander. Eight months ago, the building was evacuated. The building was condemned. Rather than erect a barricade over the single entryway, just above the Ferry Terminal, has been under constant guard via a ResEng.

Kahlo Pub will serve as our meeting place. Jeremy Reinhold will be joining me shortly. His interest seems to be more than academic. Who could blame him? His encounter with the stranger in the worn Yeesha shirt is enough to intrigue even the most unimaginative explorer. Together, with the aid of Terry Suguino and David Farwell, we will make our way into Takotah II unnoticed.  

We'll need a considerable distraction. One at the Ferry Terminal and one above in the Takotah plaza.  If successful they should serve to draw the explorers and the ResEng from his post. The ResEngs are few in number so if we're lucky, we should be able to leave Takotah II unguarded - if only long enough to get inside without being spotted. And what will I find?

My hope is to find something that will point to the truth. If my thoughts on “Panta in Takotah II” are correct, we may find some clue in this: the origin of the story. There is the possibility that we will find nothing. As I said before, the building was evacuated. It would make sense for any explorers still living within to take their belongings with them. Regardless of the likelihood, I still must see what there is to be seen. There are no other paths open to me.