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Saturday, May 30, 2015

David Farwell - Bob O'Goobo Part 2

“Pantleon?  That tied up in cavern blue?  I thought that was just an urban legend.”  I said, I had a hard time believing it was anything more than a catchy rhyme that spread around the cavern.

“Parts of it, though I doubt you’ll believe me at my word if I were to tell you my suspicions.”  Jessie had said that with a straight face.  More than that, he had leveled his eyes at mine and was unflinching in his conviction.

“Try me.”  Terry wasn’t buying it.  He crossed his arms and waited.

After a moment, Jessie began digging through a stack of papers to his left; eventually uncovering a report he made last month.  “I’ve been studying the symbols that tie Journeys together for years.  Yeesha Hand, Path of the Shell, Garden Spiral, they all share similar characteristics.”  He flipped through the report until a loose piece of parchment fell from between the pages.  He picked it up and handed it to me.

“Hopi Spiral?”

“This was given to me by Jeremy Reinold on October 9th; nearly a month before it appeared in the Watcher’s Pub.  He said a strange person in a distressed Yeesha shirt gave it to him.”  I held the page up to the light and studied how the light made the discolorations in the parchment light up.  I passed it to Terry who took and said nothing.  Jessie continued.

The passing of time brings the path to the gathered.

“Words 1:38”  Terry caught both of us by surprise.  “What?” he said, finally broken from his stern stoicism.  “Words is a hobby.”

A breach has been cut, and now the paths are joined,”  Jessie answered.

“Yes, yes; and the giving of gifts heals the wound of the builder.  Words 1:39-40   Now, what does any of this have to do with our mystery man?”  Right to the point, I thought.

“If Jeremy’s account is accurate, these are the words spoken by this figure just before he vanished.”

“He linked away?” I asked.

“There was no linking sound.  Just there one moment and gone the next.”

“Believing that, what does any of this mean?”

“This is where we return to Pantaleon.”  Jessie said.  “I told you I have been studying these symbols for a long time; ever since my arrival in the cavern I have been hearing stories about Yeesha; the DRC; and most recently, Panta in Takotah II.  I am a cultural anthropologist by trade; so when I say that communities are defined by the stories they tell I mean to say that the people of this cavern are drawn together by more than an affinity for cavern tours and ahyoheek.

“This phenomena referred to as The Call has led us all either directly or tangentially to this ancient city.”  He was starting to lose me.  “Let me put it this way.  Fantastic things happen here every day; we chalk them up to quantum mechanics; others relegate them to parable.  Our records tell us one story, and we each interpret them differently, but continue to retell the stories.  Why?  Because they resonate with us for innumerable reasons.  Some because of personal connection; sometimes just a desire to connect.  That said, I turn to our records.

“December 19, 2006.  It was on this day that the scream of a Bahro could be heard throughout the ages; and all explorers were linked back to their relto.  The books were reset and it was almost as if the journeys of before hadn’t even happened.  Concerning as this may be, there were structural changes to the cavern; the DRC restricted access to parts of the cavern with the concern that some regions had become unstable.  Furthermore, the Watcher’s Pub changed; Access to the Great Tree and by proxy; explorers were cut off from The Path of the Shell.

“Thanks for the history lesson, but you still haven’t answered our question?”  Terry was growing impatient again.

“Right, and in that spirit I ask again: What do you know about Pantaleon?”

“Aside from the aforementioned cavern blue story, just that he got laughed out of The Cavern Today for sharing some ridiculous story.”

“Was it really so ridiculous?”  Jessie asked.  He was dead serious.  I remembered vaguely when the incident involving Pantaleon occurred, but had never paid it much attention.  It’s rare that the cavern community becomes poisonous, and when it does I have found it best to steer clear.  That’s part of the reason I came to Pahrahtehs.

Jessie continued.  “Pantaleon claimed that his friends had been tricked into taking a journey they believed was meant to restore the Path of the Shell but would ultimately leave the cavern vulnerable to invasion from a conquering race.”  He paused as we let it sink in.  “Why is this any more ridiculous than an ancient underground city inhabited by beings with the ability to write worlds?

“During his time in the cavern, Pantaleon lived in Takotah II; and for these reasons, I needed to get inside to see for myself.  I needed something more before I could choose to either write off his tale or digest the weight of it.

“This is ridiculous,”  Terry said dismissing Jessie’s point.  “All this, to satisfy a whim?”

Jessie held up a notebook. “Don’t you want to know what I found?”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

David Farwell - Bob O'Goobo

I felt more than a little awkward standing alone in the archway between the Pahrahtehs fountain courtyard and the bridge.  I had disabled my KI on the surface in hopes of avoiding attention from the management.  As long as I didn’t have to use the Nexus I should be fine; assuming they don’t run into me in person.  I couldn’t see the recent visitors imager from here, but I had seen D’veeta in the cavern as late as 02:00 KI time; sometimes I wondered if she and Meghan lived in that Egg room.  I thought for a moment about their dedication in brief admiration before remembering that their commitment to this place was doing me zero favors at the moment.

I peered around the corner and looked to the clock courtyard.  All’s quiet on the Western Front.  My eyes drifted to the classroom door.  He better be in there.  I heard a link and quickly pulled myself back into the shadow.

“I come in peace.”  Terry said, wiping the sleep from his eye.  The tension in my shoulders still hadn’t relaxed.  He joined me under the arch and looked across the way.  “You think he’s in there?”  I looked to him questioningly.  He held up his left hand, devoid of KI.  “I don’t want to turn that thing on.  I didn’t even bring it.”

“He better be there.  I don’t like all this sneaking around.”  We walked across the bridge toward the classroom.  At this time of night the only sounds to be heard were the distant fountain, the waterfall, and our muffled footsteps on D’ni stone.  With every step we took toward the classroom, the more my eyes were drawn to the Egg room door.  Finally reaching the classroom door, I looked one last time to my right.  Too close for comfort.  I knocked five times and heard some shuffling inside.

“Who is it?”

“Bob O’Goobo,” Terry replied.  I couldn’t help but crack a smile at the reference.  The door unlocked and I opened it.

“Good, you’re both here,” Jessie Pollick peered from around a stack of papers.  “Come in.”  We entered.  I stepped over a stack of papers the top of which seemed to be DRC reports about structural integrity.

“Well, looks like you’ve kept busy,” I said, looking at the clutter of notebooks, papers, and binders.

“It never ends,” Jessie replied.  After a brief pause he started again.  “I just had a fascinating meeting with…”

“Really?”  Terry interrupted him.  “You’re not even going to address the situation you’ve put us in?”

“Of course.”  Jessie adjusted his glasses.  “The past month must have been difficult.”

Terry bit his lip.  I could tell he wanted to go off on this guy.  “What was it all for?  You made it abundantly clear to us that you needed to get inside Takotah II, but since all we’ve become are URU pariahs.”

“I did what I thought was necessary,” he responded.  “and now I know there’s something bigger going on here.”

“Oh, please.”  Terry spoke up.  “The whole cavern is clamoring for more about these Hopi Spirals.  Nice name by the way.  It’s almost as if you knew about them before it showed up in the Watcher’s Pub.”

“I did.”  He had my attention.  “But until very recently, I had no idea just how far this rabbit hole went.”  Hook.  Line.  Sinker.  “I may be able to remedy your current situations, but we must move very carefully.  There’s more on the line here than our social conveniences.”

Social conveniences.  That irked me.  “What are you saying?  What did you find?”

Jessie beckoned us closer.  “Tell me.  What do you know about Pantaleon?”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dalken Starbyne - Meetings

I could only hope the message I left on the imager in Pahratehs was noticed by the right person. It was innocuous enough. A generic greeting to most, a text post I spread across a few of the 'hoods to make it seem less targeted. But within it was a single clue. One that would only hold significance to those with the right pieces of the puzzle and would lead them back to me. With that in place, it was time to wait. A few hours passed. As I looked out over the light garden from the bridge in the TCT 'hood, I heard the familiar sound of an incoming link. I checked my KI for the name.

Jessie Pollick.

I pushed myself up from the rail and made my way toward the fountain. My Relto was already off my belt. Without a word, before anyone else could show up, I held the linking page out to him. And just like that, he was gone. A moment later, so was I.

We spent some time gauging one another, though I think we both knew we were after the same thing. We wanted the truth. It didn't take long before we began exchanging information. Locations we'd spotted the spirals. What each of us had found. I brought up the journals. That got him interested. Noloben and the Bahro even more. He told me about the incident in Tokotah, and the investigation that had led up to it. Others were involved, at least to some degree. Jeremy Reinold, David Farwell, Terry Suguino.

We came to the conclusion that it is probably an explorer leaving those spirals about. And they're doing it to draw attention. It's working, too. Talk is spreading. Quickly. I'm concerned with the danger surrounding this whole Triple Shell thing. I expressed my concerns to Jessie, and he seemed to understand. We can't have the Cavern at large delving into this. Not until we really know how to handle what we've got here, at least. He said he'd try to get a hold of the others so that we could discuss our next course of action. After a stunt like that, I can understand why they'd be laying low for a while. Especially if my interactions with Pahratehs' "management" are any indication of how serious they can be.

In the meantime, I have someone else to get a hold of. I have a hunch about who's been leaving those spirals, and I aim to find them. Of course, that's easier said than done.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mark Loren - Expedition

Hannah lifted her firemarble lantern to illuminate the tunnel walls and made note of the faded writing.  After a moment something clicked.  "Of course!"  She looked back to us.  "It's this way," she said cheerfully.  I made a note to ask her where she had found these lanterns and squinted at my map of the cavern, turning it this and that way trying to make sense of the markings.

I glanced at Flora as she moved ahead of me.  Completely unfettered.  I wasn't sure if she just implicitly trusted Hannah's sense of direction or if she didn't care where she was, only moving forward.  Hannah had assured me that the best way to learn D'ni was to use it in practice.  That made sense, but the numbers on the wall were a bit out of my wheelhouse.  This number was two digits in length.  I could make out a thirteen.. Or was that a twenty one?  It was followed by an eight... or maybe that was a sixteen.  So that would make it one hundred and four?  Or was it three hundred and thirty six?  Thinking about it made my head hurt.

"Hey, Mark!  Get the lead out."  Hannah called down the tunnel.  Artus bumped my shoulder as he passed.

"You heard the woman."  He sneered as he continued up the path.  "Don't want to get lost down here.  Its not friendly like that magma chamber the other day."  

I scoffed under my breath.  "Don't remind me," I said quietly.  I knew there was no real danger.  Hannah knew where she was going, and there was safety in numbers.  And if anything did happen we had Relto.  Still, the thought of being alone in these tunnels unnerved me.  "Hold up!" My voice echoed dryly throughout the stone tunnel.

I caught up with the other three.  Flora was peering through a hole broken in the tunnel.  "Hey, Mark."  She beckoned me closer.  "Take a look at this."  I peered through the fissure.  I had a moment's doubt if I would see anything as the hole was so small that barely any of the light from the lanterns could seep through; but, these questions quickly were answered upon seeing a web of phosphorescent vines covering the wall of a small cavern room.  At their base were bulbs of another phosphorescent plant growing directly out of the rock.

"What the 'heek?"  I said.  I drew back from the wall in time to catch Flora covering a silent laugh with her forearm.  Must be a fan of my oh so witty word play.

"They're called Tregilotee."  Hannah answered.  "Well, I call them Tregilotee."  I don't know of any official name for them; but, Aitrus father of Ghen, made note of them in his map to the surface."  Her gaze drifted up as she tried to remember the details.  "There's at least 4 different varieties of phosphorescent plant down here.  And any number of things that eat them."  Hannah made a note in her journal and double checked her map.

I looked beyond her to see a split in the tunnel system.  Certainly not the first split we'd come to.  Aitrus' map had a route marked, but it didn't take us long to realize that we would have to find our own way.  Many of the tunnels had been impassable, either by collapse or by blockage by DRC property.  "Does anyone still use this stuff?" I asked, looking at what was something akin to a suped-up pallet jack.

"Makes me wonder why it has been left down here for so long,"  Flora added.  We shrugged off our questions and followed Hannah down the tunnel to the left.

The passageway soon became cramped as we climbed over and through the rubble of a collapsed tunnel.  I began to wonder about the stability of these rocks.  The passageway opened up a head.  I watched the others drop down into a larger chamber.  On my hands and knees I crawled through towards the opening and dropped down.  I collected myself and looked around for my friends.

The room was vaulted by the fragmented tunnel walls.  I raised my lantern.  "Hey, where'd you guys go?"  I walked forward and cornered past a huge stone shard.  Hanna and the others were crowded around a wall.  "Hey, what are you guys looking at?"  I joined them and saw a strange image glowing on the wall.