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Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mark Loren - Tension

I sat on a large slab of stone.  The claustrophobic tunnel was made more so by the debris of fallen tunnel and DRC equipment scattered around.  A pulsing blue light emanated from the symbol on the wall.  There was a lot not being said.  The silence was deafening.

"Well, you'd think we would be used to this by now," I said hoping to get a response from somebody.

"In a sense, isn't this why we came down here?" Flora mused.  The pulsing light of the symbol reflected in her eyes.  "It reminds me of that night in Eder Gira.”

I replayed that night in my mind.  The thundering of the waterfall, the gentle glow of the lanterns, Torri's scream as Artus knocked over a pile of wicker baskets.  A joke in poor taste that lead to a discover very much like this one.

I looked to Artus.  He sat on the outer curve of what had once been the ceiling, now strewn across the tunnel floor.  His face was hidden by a shadow cast by the hood of his lantern.  He was there in the Maintainer's Nexus too; the same night the Watcher's Pub was flooded with explorers clamoring to see what would become known as the Hopi Spiral.

"Well, this certainly isn't the Hopi Spiral," said Hannah; very matter-of-factly.  Mind reader.  She was sketching in a notebook she had pulled from her pack.  "I'm not too sure what's going on with this design.  There's something about it that doesn't seem quite right.  Regardless, the Cavern Crier is going to have a field day with this."

"You sure that's a good idea?"  It was Artus who had spoken.  He sounded almost hollow; like something had broken inside him.  "What are the chances someone else will find this?"

"An informed explorer is a safe explorer," Hannah replied.

"We don't even know what this is, how can anyone be informed about it?" Artus retorted.  His posture in the shadow had changed pulling him up further into the shadow of his hooded lantern.  "Something isn't right here.  We need to stay far away from this."

"And what of the others who stumble into this?" Hannah was getting frustrated.  "Knowledge is built on previous understanding.  If we keep this a secret, everybody will be stuck at square one.". Artus said something under his breath.  "What was that?"

Artus lowered his gaze into the light and met Hannah.  "I said, there is another way."

Thursday, June 18, 2015

David Farwell - Bob O'Goobo Part 5

"You think if people find this they might get pulled into whatever Pantaleon got wrapped up in?" I asked.  I wondered if in my younger years I would have fit the bill Dalken was describing.  "If this is out there already, what exactly can any of us do?  Do we ask explorers not to explore?  Not even the DRC was able to keep people out of restricted regions of the cavern.  How do you propose we do it?"

"Information control," Dalken replied.  Terry did his best to hide a look of shock mixed with anger?  Or maybe it was something else.  "I know. I don’t much care for it either, but it's the best option for the time being," Dalken continued, adjusting his hat.  "The truth is, we don't know enough yet to find a real solution, but the appearance of the Hopi Spiral has forced our hand."

"I guess discovery of this Triple Shell wouldn't go over do well in the wake of everything so far; especially with D'ni Olympics right around the corner."

"Quite," Dalken agreed, flipping through several other KI shots.  Among them I picked out collapsed buildings in the cavern, an Eder Tomahn, a magma filled chamber, and the interior of the Path of the Shell as well as a few other things unrecognizable.  "I still have a good chunk of investigating left to do, but Jessie and I felt it was important to emphasize our reasoning for keeping everything close to the chest.”

"I've already spoken with Jeremy Reinold," Jessie added.  "He was about to share what he knew with D'veeta.  A close call, but I stopped him before their meet."

"And in the mean time," Terry began. "In the mean time, what are we supposed to do?  It's one thing to say business as usual. But we now have compromised positions and an administration that I'm half wishing could hear this whole meeting through the wall."  He had a point.  I could probably slip back in well enough; Meghan would grow tired of my dodging her questions, but Terry had to answer to Mister Magic and the rest of the Grey Hats.

“Well, if you did decide to go tell somebody, it’s not like we could really stop you at this
point,” Dalken noted rather bluntly. He pulled the brim of his hat further down his forehead. “But if any of you remember what happened the last time someone was in real danger and the whole cavern was in a riot, then you know why we need to find alternatives until we have more information.” He paused to take a deep breath. “We have to be careful about who we bring in on this. Lives could very well be at stake here.”

“I’m not so interested in telling anybody about this, this, conspiracy as much as I’m interested in how you plan to convince Mr Magic that my record is clean.”  Terry dropped his crossed arms and raised them to emphasize his point.  “Black Hats.  That’s what you’ve made us.”

“For the record, I wasn’t in on that particular detail,” Dalken defended. He started sending posts and photos to the imager to erase the more sensitive material. “But I have picked up a few tricks over the years relating to the KI and Lattice registries from a friend of mine. Dunno if it’ll be enough to fool the Grey Hats, but it should throw folks off your trail for a while at least.”

“That’s all I ask,” Terry replied.  He took a deep breath and twirled his hand briefly in the air while speaking.  “I’ll keep my lid shut on the issue at hand.  I assume you’ll need my KI too.  I’ll leave it with Jessie here soon.  Now, I think I’m going to retire to the surface.  I’m not looking forward to the morning.”  And with that, he reltoed out.

“That’s probably as good an idea as any,” I said looking back to the two of them.  “Before I leave, I gotta know.  Maybe I don’t want to know, but I got the sense that there was more than one of these Triple Spiral things that you found.  What’s your plan?  Remove them somehow?  Ya know, what?  Don’t tell me.  I need some rest.”  I opened my Relto.  “I’ll be in touch,” I said before linking away.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

David Farwell - Bob O'Goobo Part 4

The door opened and in walked a young explorer.  His boots clicked against the stone floor of the classroom, covered from the ankles up by a pair of plain black jeans. His hat, which shaded his face down to his half-rimmed glasses, oddly reminded me of a black version of the one I’d seen Douglas Sharper wearing in photographs, especially folded up as it was on the side. The resemblance ended there, however, with a goatee in place of Sharper’s horseshoe mustache. What really caught my eye, however, was the jacket he was wearing. It was of a blue fleece, with “The Cavern Today” printed on the front in plain white lettering. On the back was the podcast’s unmistakable logo.

“Greetings, citizens,” he began with an informal salute. “Dalken Starbyne, lead reporter for The Cavern Today. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

"Dalken..."  I collected my thoughts and looked back to Jessie Pollick.

"Didn't I tell you?"  He said.  "I had a fascinating meeting with Dalken here.  He's all but confirmed my theories.

"I'm assuming Jessie’s done the heavy lifting," Dalken said, stepping forward.

"We're not at the bottom of this rabbit hole yet," Jessie responded.

Dalken retrieved a notebook from a small satchel bag he had slung over his shoulder. “As I’m sure Jessie went over with you, an explorer with the KI tag ‘Pantaleon’ came to The Cavern Today a while back,” he detailed, opening the notebook. In it was a list of locations, many of them crossed out, some with ‘X’s next to them, and at the corner was a sketch of a strange symbol I didn’t recognize. It was different from the Hopi Spiral, which was located just below that. “I wasn’t around for that interview, but when I got back to the cavern and heard about it, I felt it warranted some further investigation. A lot of exploring and a rather interesting encounter later, I’d come to some pretty concerning conclusions. Particularly about this.” He pointed at the odd symbol.

I studied the image.  Three spirals nearly conjoined at a central point.  The design reminded me something of a whirlpool.  I looked to Terry, trying to judge his reaction.  He was stoic as ever.  That said, he must believe something of this, otherwise he would have walked out long ago.  “What is it?” I asked.

“That, I believe,” Dalken replied. “Is what Pantaleon referred to as the Triple Shell.”

“Not a very original name,” Terry said looking to Jessie, Dalken, and finally to me.

“For something that isn’t one of Yeesha’s, I’m almost glad they didn’t just call it the ‘three spiral thingy,’” came Dalken’s response. “The intent behind it, however, is a lot more worrying. At least, if Pantaleon’s claims are true. And, given what the Bahro showed me in Noloben, I can understand his panic.”

That was something I did not expect.  Terry’s reaction matched my own: slack jawed, and slightly dumbfounded.  “I’m sorry, the Bahro?” I must have misheard him.

Dalken just chuckled a little. “This is why I take KI pics of everything,” he said, drawing up the aforementioned device. Then, however, his expression suddenly became very dark, a seriousness crossing it that deeply contrasted that of the man who’d just walked into the classroom a few minutes ago. “These are not to leave this room, understand?”

There was more than a tacit agreement throughout the room.  Dalken synched his KI to the imager behind the desk and pulled up his first picture.

“During my investigation, something seemed off to me about the whole thing and its supposed connection to Yeesha’s Path of the Shell. Some of the things mentioned in Pantaleon’s notes and those of his friends didn’t quite fit with how I remembered the Path of the Shell. So I decided to go back and walk it again,” he explained, stepping up to the imager so that he could point out details by hand. “That was when I was paid an unexpected visit by our winged friends. They brought me here.”

“Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone else has all the fun?” I said sarcastically.

"So, what exactly are we looking at here?" Terry asked.  "I'm not what you would call an expert in bahroglyphs."

"I don't know that anyone is," Dalken replied.  "That said, I have spent the better part of the last eight months studying these based on what we do know."  I lost focus momentarily at the thought of another academic dam release.  "I won't bore you with the details.  Suffice to say that my discovery of these bahroglyps gives more than a little credit to Pantaleon's well as a little insight into how many bags of D’nitos one can go through before the flavor starts getting old.”

"Anyway, that brings us back here."  Dalken swapped to a new image on his KI.  It was a match to the previously unknown symbol he had showed us in his notebook, except for the fact that the symbol had been etched into a stone wall and glowed with a faint blue.  "While your involvement began with the Hopi Spiral, my own began last January in Descent, when I snapped this image.”

There was a nervousness that was shared between Terry and myself.  I could see it despite his best attempts to remain stonefaced.  The evidence was mounting, and it didn't look good.  Dalken's pause had been well timed to let it sink in.  "I can't be the only explorer who digs around every crevice down here, but I imagine our ranks are bolstered since the Hopi Spiral became public knowledge.  Hopi Spirals are not the threat.  This is," Dalken said sternly, gesturing to the image on the wall.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

David Farwell - Bob O'Goobo Part 3

"Is that?"  I started.

"Pantaleon's notebook?"  Jessie finished for me.  "Sadly no, " he said, flipping through it.  "It's one of mine.   No less important though."  He flipped through it replacing his marker after a moment and placed it closed on his desk.  That threw me off.

"Takotah II is far from the condemned building we are led to believe it is.  The night of your rather impressive Dr. Watson hologram, the same night the Hopi Spiral was sighted in the Watcher's Pub, I was able to sneak into the old building.  I found Pantaleon's apartment."

"And you know this how?"  I could feel my browline mirroring my question.

"Well, I wasn't certain at first," he responded.  "But it was clear that someone had lived here."  Jessie fiddled with his KI and brought up an image on the imager behind him.  He flipped to the next.  It was a desk covered in notes.  "From this desk I found some clues as to whose room I was in.  Notice anything?"

That you missed your calling as a detective?  "I see KI shots of Bahro Glyps and a copy of Words," I offered.

"There's a Yeesha seal on that book."  Terry was paying closer attention than I was.  "Can't say I recognize the binding."

"It has a Guild of Greeters seal on it,"  Jessie said.  "Yeesha's Journals.  I believe it is their own printing."  He swapped to the next picture.  "It was clear that several people had lived here.  Aside from the two alcoves along the wall, there were also a few cots scattered around the room.

"Reminds me of my first apartment," I chuckled.

"It does have something of a collegiate feel to it," Jessie responded.  I thought back to those years of my life when communal living was the only way to get by and shook it off remembering the reason I had come here in the first place.  Jessie looked down for a moment in thought.  "I had only just started investigating the room when I heard something echoing down the hall."  Beat.  "I remember looking to Jeremy Reinold who had accompanied me inside.  He heard it too.

"Quickly and quietly we moved out of the room in search of the noise.  Most of the rooms in the building were bare; some were shut and locked, perhaps from the inside.  Moving down the hall I heard the sound again.  It was distinctly a chair scooting across the stone floor."  Jessie paused to gauge our response.  "I approached the room and peered the corner.  For a moment I saw a man.  Tattered Yeesha shirt; the smell of the desert.  He linked away before I could say anything," Jessie concluded.

Game.  Set.  Match.  Everything carefully timed and executed.  Some things connected; others did not.  There were too many questions, but I could almost see where this was headed.  I waited for Jessie to wrap up.

"The room he was in was filled with trinkets.  Odds and ends mostly: a terrarium filled with Teledahn mushrooms; a book shelf with titles by Plato, and Aristotle just to name a few; maps of the ages, mostly hand drawn; and a single parchment identical to the one handed to me by Jeremy Reinold.  Shortly after my KI began lighting up with messages from everyone about the discovery in the Watcher's Pub.  A few days later I released my paper on the Hopi Spiral, which brings us almost up to date."

Terry chewed on his response for a moment.  "So, I take it your release came as 'let's fan the flames' kinda moment?"

"You've heard the rumors," Jessie responded.  "There are some in the cavern who believe that Yeesha has returned.  They think this symbol holds the key to her new Journey.  That kind of thinking can be incredibly dangerous; especially if my suspicions are correct.  Rather than have explorers getting in the way, I shared what information I had in hopes of keeping them out of the more unstable regions of the cavern.  Another DRC cover up is far from what we need."

"Not sure how much good you did," I added.  "For weeks people were searching the ages for anything different.  They must have found Hopi Spirals in every accessible age."

"The Hopi Spiral isn't what worries me," Jessie said sternly.  "Our Mysterious Stranger, whoever it may be, is leaving these symbols around the cavern; usually in difficult to reach locations.  Why?  I don't think it's a coincidence that the Yeesha camp is driven to find these symbols when they are so cleverly hidden.

"Furthermore, the findings inside Pantaleon's room give credit to his own story.  Which makes me wonder, is Pantaleon's story so ridiculous?  There's clearly a connection between him, the Mysterious Stranger, and the Hopi Spirals."

I gave it a moment before I spoke.  " that's... An awful lot to digest," I said.  "How can you be sure?"

Jessie nudged his journal across the desk toward me and beckoned me to open it.  There was a kick at the door.  Then four more.  "Gentlemen," Jessie addressed us.  "There is somebody I want you to meet."

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.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

David Farewell - Fall Guys

"Listen, Terry. I get that you're worried, but I think your absence is just making it worse." This traffic was relentless. I had been stuck here for nearly ten minutes already. So much for a quick commute between home and work.

"You said it yourself, if Mister Magic even suspects that I had anything to do with that hologram, boom! There goes my Grey Hat membership. Not even addressing my general cavern status. Black Hats are not well regarded!

" Don't tell me you used your own access point for the lattice?"

"Of course not. I might as well have sent the ResEngs a big letter saying 'It was me!', signed Terry Suguino! We've both been in this cavern long enough to know how to cover our footprints. It's one of the reasons we get pulled into these messes in the first place. But that's the problem isn't it? Too many people know we can do it." I usually made it a point not to argue with Terry. Largely because he had an annoying habit of always being right.

I bit my tongue and thought carefully about what I would say next. A blue sedan cut in front of me. I blew my horn and fired my mouth.


"Sorry, some jerk just cut me off." I closed my eyes for a moment. A quick turn to the right and I would be home in five minutes. I thought about my apartment and the lady next door, and how I really didn't want to hear her complain about how my cooking aggravated her cats. " So, what are you suggesting? A fall guy?"

"I dont know." Terry was silent for a moment. "Seems like we're paying an awful lot for something we don't really understand."

" So, does that make us the fall guys?"

"I'll tell you what, tomorrow we both head to Pahratehs and get a straight answer out of Jessie Pollick. It was his plan anyway. At the very least we should know why we went to all the effort."

"Cool, I'll see you there." I hung up the phone. The cars ahead of me began to crawl forward. I looked at the intersection. My stomach growled. My thoughts returned to the cat-lady next door. Maybe it's a pizza night. I put my foot on the gas and hung a left.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Jeremy Reinold -

I closed the door and collected my thoughts.  If I was lucky I could get out of this building without running into any of the two hundred students from this morning.  I should take the back stairwell.  Doctor Foust should have plenty of time now that practice exams were finished.  That said, I don't think I could stomach another question about eigenvalues or about the real meaning behind the Schrödinger wave equation.  As far as I could tell,  it is math.  I hurried down the hallway and into the stairwell.

There were students hurrying below and out the door.  Almost free.  I caught a glimpse of a curly head of hair from above.  This was a girl who seemed to enroll merely to verify her own world view.  It doesn't matter if we're dealing with the Copenhagen interpretation or Many Worlds interpretation.  The waveform collapses, and the result is what we see.  The universe may not be deterministic, but that is far from saying that our thoughts and disposition can influence reality by virtue of their being.  Too many philosophy majors dabbling in the quantum.  I hurried down the stairs and out the door.

I got back to my apartment, grabbed a drink from the fridge, and sat at my desk.  I had my own work as well.  My paper outlining an experiment to test the many worlds interpretation stared at me.  Calling it a paper gave it too much credit.  As of yet, my plans to utilize a macroscopic quantum state and quantum erasure fall flat in the absence of a quantum computer.  So far this seems to be little more than a reiteration of David Deutch's thought experiments from 1985.

I dug through my desk in search of my notepad.  I eyed my flashing KI inside and paused.  Too many thoughts.  How many messages?  Was it David Farwell?  D'veeta?  Jessie Pollick?  How did this thing work?  Was it quantum?  It must be.  Where was the power source?  I think too much.

Many-worlds is too silly.  Too many problems, both theoretical and practical; and yet, this device could communicate across ages.  My relto could transport me to those ages.  Surely there must be a solution.  If there is, I won't find it here.  I grabbed my KI.

Glancing through is saw a bulletin from the Cavern Criers; a statement from Mister Magic; a dozen messages from D'veeta...  The list went on and on.  I opened the most recent from D'veeta.

Contact me.

I sighed.  There's no escaping the grind.  Surface or cavern, always work to be done.

I rolled over to my bookshelf and pulled down a small book with a green leather cover.  Guess I can't avoid this any more, I thought.  I opened the cover and linked.