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Pinkgothic // author
Genos // category
newsletter // #001 to #075 // (18 AUG to 17 MAY)
2014-05-17 20:38:19 // time
[1] overview
[2] basics
[3] new players and characters
[4] plotline // infection
[5] plotline // mer
[6] plotline // genos
[7] plotline // offline
[8] closing words

[1] overview

So, here we are. Inititally I didn't want to carry over the newsletter format to the new incarnation of Wildcard because, let's face it, no one really read them. Or at least no one that I wrote the newsletters for, which is those people that were out of the loop - and those that are in the loop certainly wouldn't need one!

But it turns out that there's been a long enough 'everyone's real life is happening simultaneously' lull that it might actually be prudent, simply to have somewhere to jot down necessary gamemaster-y notes.

And that's where we are now. I'll try to finish writing this in a finite time. We'll see what happens.

[2] basics

Some basics while I'm here (but you should know these unless you've been living under a rock):

A Puppet is a program with an avatar, like an NPC in your favourite graphical game. In fact, a Puppet's effectively the exact same thing. A Program in Tron-verse terminology.

Conversely, a Citizen is an avatar not belonging to a program, but rather to a human being connected to the virtual world. A player, if you will. A User in a Tron-verse context.

Finally, a Denizen is the result of a fairly recent (roughly a decade old) technology in-character that allows human beings to transcend their biological forms and run purely as programs. They're still arguably human, but they're not... connected to the internet in the traditional sense. There's a lot of political and philosophical so-so about whether they ought to be considered human in the world of Citizens.

Which is why most of them choose to live in Sanctuary, a small network that exists entirely for Denizens, with very few interfaces to the outside world.

Sanctuary is made up of Fragments, each of which is a self-contained virtual narrative - a world, if you so want. Most Fragments are Denizen-only. Several are private, which means that even amongst Denizens invitations are needed to enter them. The most prominent Fragment not restricted to Denizens is Dominion, a large almost-an-MMORPG where a sizable amount of Denizens choose to live, where loosely whitelisted Citizens can visit.

Sanctuary as a whole runs slightly democratically - decisions pertaining to Sanctuary-wide infrastructure, hardware or access to the source code that the whole system is built on must be decided by all or most administrators, or at least the 'core administrators'. Core admins are those that've been around long enough and have a technological understanding.

Finally, if you just want to know what the hell entrapment is about and how it transmits, there's an article on entrapment in the encyclopaedia.

[3] new players and characters

This is the first newsletter in this incarnation of Wildcard, so everyone is new and all characters in play are new. Instead of being exhaustive in this section as I'd normally be, here's a list of the characters that've been most important for the plotline so far (fahk, why are most of these mine?! ...oh right, because gamemaster):

Zacharie Fabian a/k/a Jeneth, Sanctuary Denizen, is one of the pioneers of the Sanctuary system and a trusted core administrator and something of an IT security guru. His belief in private keys is almost religious... which has turned him into a threat for the trapped Denizens, who can no longer authenticate this way. To Zacharie, they're not people, they're malware; or at the very least vessels for malware that make for acceptable collateral damage.

Sekai Fabian a/k/a Leucrocotta, Sanctuary Denizen, wife of Zacharie Fabian, was a perpetual companion for the trapped Denizens for a long time, before the access loss affected her as well. Since she made back-ups of herself, there are now somewhat morbidly two copies of her - one with Zacharie, the other with the group.

Synera, meta-data access Puppet, is a program designed by Alexander Brady a/k/a AlexBrady39 to help the trapped Denizens. She can interface with meta-data at will and is programmed to help the Denizens.

Frederick Pasquan a/k/a Nokogiri, Sanctuary Denizen, currently the only Denizen together with the trapped group of Denizens that isn't trapped. Since he's stripped most of his access artificially, this has no great effect, but the Fragments still identify him as a full Denizen (what with their plotlines often tailored toward them) and he knows he can survive death, making him a useful meat shield. Nonetheless, he's still reluctant to engage death since actually respawning tends to put him elsewhere... making him immediatelly less useful as a meat shield. An unfortunate detail.

[4] plotline // infection

The first three infections happened roughly simultaneously, but in two very different locations.

Dominion [#006] was one of them. Yamikuronue (Yamiko Kuronue), a resident Denizen - immersed in the simulated culture by choice, trying for a semblance of a normal life even as a Denizen - lost her access to the Dominion meta-data mid-conversation. Since the world mostly runs on its own conlang, the shift was immediately apparent... and quite alarming. Her Puppet conversation partner, Dalandan, panicked in his confusion and disappeared to get an Oracle (effectively a walking universal translator) to both bridge the gap and offer reasonable explanations about what might be happening [#002]. Being a Puppet, however, Tristan, the Oracle was stumped and recommended she speak to the head-Oracle, Joukahainen, instead [#004]. That would require some travel, since Joukahainen resided with the tangible deity of the Dominion universe - Shahrivar, a genderless dragon keeping the two worlds existing in parallel of Dominion from mutual annihalation by application of magic, often referred to with female pronouns.

When Yamiko reached Joukahainen, she initially misidentified him as a Denizen as he proved to be unexpectedly fluent in meta-terminology [#009]. When he revealed himself as a Puppet, she took it as deliberate attempt to deceive her. The situation escalated rapidly, until she left with the sole intent to get away, distressed by the circumstances and feeling impossibly alone [#016].

Meanwhile, in kraiaKy, a Denizen-only Fragment of Sanctuary belonging to the Fabians [#008], Rapture (Elizabeth Zinn) and Zeitaro (Tayeb Nejem) at first simply entered it to explore [#001]. Picking the underdog faction of the kavkema (based on Deinonychae), they didn't announce themselves, thinking they'd try out the game and then leave again. Unfortunately, the moment they realised they'd made their first in-character mistake coincided with the moment they lost their access [#010] - a bad timing that resulted in their capture by Puppets from the other faction in the Fragment, the Nayabaru (based on Iguanodonts).

A week of this unusual entrapment later, Zacharie Fabian discovered the two Denizens through a regular integrity check of his Fragment. He first revealed himself to and engaged in conversation with Zeitaro, but given his initial scepticism was strong, nothing the trapped Denizen told him convinced him that he was a true Denizen. Rather than help them out of their dismal prison, he erected a quarantine around the part of the Fragment Zeitaro and Rapture were in and announced his plan to reboot the Fragment once he'd spoken to his co-admin about it, leaving Zeitaro to existential panic [#011].

In leaving the area, he broadcast information about the quarantine to the users of his Fragment, stirring the curiosity of Evé Blau (Der Blaue Geist). Known in kraiaKy as the kavkem-allied, de-facto demi-god Evenatra and used to a certain degree of invulnerability in her playing style despite the constant opposition, Evé entered the quarantine with her moderator access and discovered Rapture in her cell. Unfortunately a bit sloppy in her attempt to peel Rapture out, Evé attracted the attention of the guards - and found herself afflicted with the same access loss as she tried to teleport herself and Rapture out of there. From there, things escalated - and instead of freeing two trapped Denizens, Evé simply ended up caught up in the same mess [#013].

Rapture's disappearance meanwhile popped up on the radar of her Citizen friend, Alexander Brady, who began to investigate what might have happened to her by first speaking to one of the Dominion support staff [#007]. Following up on information that she was last registered as being in kraiaKy, he tried to contact the listed admins of the Fragment, but only heard back from Sekai, whom he met (in the Denizen-only Fragment Mer, after getting access to it) at next opportunity. She promised to investigate [#012].

The two kraiaKy admins discovered each other soon after, having very different points of view on the situation, given the way they'd learnt about it. Sekai ultimately convinced Zacharie that it would be better to err on the side of giving the trapped Denizens the benefit of doubt, and the two returned to kraiaKy, hoping to deactivate the quarantine and get people out. Discovering Evé was also affected (which in Sekai's eyes only proved her point), they pried her out first, learning that teleportation might be a transmission vector [#014]. Armed with this knowledge the two tried to stay as in-character as possible as they peeled Zeitaro out of his prison [#015], at that point held separate from Rapture. Given "Evenatra's" prior attempt to rescue her, by now Rapture was under immediate suspicion of being a member of the most active Nayabaru opposition [#070] and was relocated to a particularly nasty place on the Fragment world map.

For her own protection, Evé had split away from the Fabians and the subsequent rescue attempt of Rapture's and began to make her way through the transition zone out of kraiaKy that the group had agreed to pass through [#022].

After Zeitaro intentionally managed to get himself caught a second time (albeit pretending to be a wholly different kavkem with the Fabians help) to get into Rapture's prison and help the Fabians get a foot in the door by supplying information from his perspective, he met Nokogiri/Frederick. He discovered that Nokogiri was a Denizen immersively playing a pawn of the faction they were captive to (and admitted to having needed to be snapped out of that immersion first), before Nokogiri half-weaseled, half-fought them both a way out, using both his granted access and his avatar's brute strength for this purpose [#019].

Accompanied by Sekai, they fled from the area - and in catching up with his friend, Zeitaro discovered that Nokogiri and Rapture's interaction hadn't been all rosy, to the point where she was outright frightened that he was going to accompany them [#021]. That broke into a full-blown argument as they reach the next Fragment over, Aurelius Rising [#026]. Zeitaro discussed it with Rapture, coming to understand that if she was going to tolerate Nokogiri's presence, he probably ought to, just the same [#031].

Yamiko's disappearance, meanwhile, was of course noticed by her wife, Erika Kuronue (StrangeAeon), who first entered Dominion in search of her - and with help found out she was last seen in her 'home town' when she had been heading out to see Joukahainen [#018]. Unfortunately, Yamiko wasn't returning to her store. Driven by an urge to find a transition zone to end up in a Fragment less linguistically opaque, Yamiko stumbled into Mer, getting picked up by the pirate ship Maelstrom [#023].

Back in Aurelius Rising, Evé, having gone ahead through the transition zone, finally regrouped with the others as they discovered her not far from the coast that the transition zone had led to him [#032].

At request of Zacharie, Sekai hadn't contacted Alex again for a while, leaving him to his own devices, trying to piece together the evidence from the sparse information granted to him by the Sanctuary system [#020]. To placate him (and with some reluctance, not sharing Zacharie's paranoia, 'only' respecting it), she eventually sent a Proxy [#024], telling him that Rapture's been found and moved to Aurelius Rising but that she didn't want to speak with outsiders.

Naturally, this only spurned his curiosity, making him contact one admin of Aurelius Rising (Snapdragon / Andrew Patel) outside of Sanctuary to get access and talk to Rapture directly, expressing concerns about a kidnapping [#027]. The annoying situation of course forced the group to decide whether to tell a Citizen about the Sanctuary glitch or shut him out completely and hope that he wouldn't start drawing media attention on the matter. Sensibly, they decided to let him in on it [#028]. When Rapture and Alex finally did meet, despite the lack of signature on her part, Alex believed her account of the story [#029], at least loosely smoothing things over between the Citizen and the Denizens.

[5] plotline // mer

Given Aurelius Rising was a Fragment still in its design phase (and any changes to host Fragments is avoided as a rule, assumed to be a threat since it might have adverse effects on the 'anomalous' Denizens), the group quickly left for Mer. A low-tech world rich in mythology, on a planet with a greater ocean-coverage than earth with land masses mostly consisting of islands, Mer's primary plot driving device was a substance called Dark Water, an amorphous black predator that floated amongst the seas and could devour things it came into contact with whole by enveloping them (sometimes whole islands).

Sekai, knowing her way around that Fragment, brought them to the safest place the Fragment had to offer - an island called Nado that was home to a Dark Water cult, which, despite the local Puppets' questionable ideals, had the benefit of plot armour [#033]. One of her Merian Denizen friends, Mikko Sundén, found her there and discovered the fate of the Denizens accompanied by her, much to his chagrin, greatly impacting his playing style. He promised to be nice to them [#035] - bar the one untrapped newcomer, Nokogiri, who he then introduced himself to a little more naturally, eventually making him respawn [#069].

Meanwhile, two Denizens that considered themselves near-permanent inhabitants of Mer - Gunther (Alex Forester) and Maple (Mable Vernon) - got theirs hands on a trinket relevant for the Fragment plot itself, giving them an excuse to move around in the world a lot more [#034].

It was then that a less permanent inhabitant of the Fragment, a fairly new Denizen, Tin Man (Aaron Travers), passing through out of curiosity about the various Fragments offered by Sanctuary, ended up losing his access - and all his borrowed, automated ship-sailing skills with it, effectively washing him up on the shore of Nado [#036]. He ended up introduced to Sekai, who explained what she suspects is happening to him [#037]. While Tin Man was on his own, a bit of triggered plotline (from the aforementioned found trinket by Gunther and Maple) on Nado proved potentially hazardous: A sub-faction of the local cult, led by a Puppet named Ezadir, settled a long-standing disagreemend with the cult's leader, Julian, by murdering him. Fortunately no Denizens were harmed [#038,#039] - except Nokogiri, who, having an instinct to fight, learnt that fighting is not a good tactic against the Nado cultists with their Dark Water crossbow bolts.

Back in kraiaKy, one of the kavkem Puppets had revealed - under duress - where Evenatra (Evé Blau's kraiaKy character) had disappeared to, to best of his knowledge, i.e. the location in kraiaKy where the transition zone to Aurelius Rising resided [#030]. The leader of the Nayabaru, more machine than living creature, result of an age-old bickering between the demi-gods of that particular universe, Teranyina, managed to make her way all the way to Mer following their trail. Nokogiri discovered this after his game-plot related respawn, much to his confusion and alarm. Unsurprisingly, the encounter resulted in his third respawn, after which he decided to take a different route back. Fished out of the ocean by the crew of the Maelstrom, he very nearly had his death-count in the Fragment upped to four by almost being fed to the Maelstrom's Constrictus (a worm-like sea serpent kept in a watery cage within the ship) to help keep it complacent. It was Yamiko that discovered him and saved him with her since-established status amongst the crew [#048]. After discussing their situation [#049], they disappeared from the Maelstrom together, exchanging stories on the way to Nado [#050].

Meanwhile, the administrator of Mer (Patri Holme) appeared on Nado to check on the Denizens trapped there. He advised them not to make themselves into targets unnecessarily, divulging some information on the nature on the Nado cultists. He had a conversation with Tin Man, discovering that the Denizen had altered himself not to 'need' sleep [#044], something that deeply concerned him given the effects on human psyches (even simulated human psyches) and he shared with Sekai. Then he disappeared, curious about the exact trigger of the plot, coming across Gunther and Maple, only to decide to join them in their quest [#043]. In an effort to acquire a ship for them, he half-stole, half-borrowed one from a Denizen (Chord and her companion-Puppet, Soap), whom he convinced to come along [#047].

Seeing no reason not to enjoy himself despite the minor trouble the trapped Denizens were in, Mikko, unconcerned since he was in good graces with the uprising faction on Nado and would simply respawn if he were mistaken about his leeway, immersed himself in the Nado plotline, wiggling further into the faction's good graces. Amongst other things, he hunted down an escaped cultist and brought him back to Ezadir [#041].

Conversely, the local Citizen visitor (Alex) found himself quite wary of the situation, but refusing to be cowed - after all, he technically had the same benefit that Mikko did; nothing objectively to fear. He made Ezadir explain the in-character blah blah about the plot scenario to him, the cause for the uprising [#042], and tediously organised a visit with the incarcerated Rapture (imprisoned because of an escape attempt of hers) and Sekai (imprisoned as Julian's right hand), discovering they're entirely fine and just sitting things out [#045]. It paid off, with both of them eventually allowed to move freely - Sekai under some supervision, but Rapture without such restrictions.

Evé convinced Sekai that, given the seemingly random spread of the glitch to Tin Man, she should look into some safety measures [#046]. This resulted in Sekai, Mikko and Patri making back-ups of themselves. However, when Yamiko introduced herself to the island, the theory that rendered distance would matter was called into question, and the transmission vector was increasingly uncertain [#052]. Following this - and the revelation that Teranyina was tracking them - Patri decided that they should leave Mer, potentially to find a Fragment where they could be by themselves. They selected Collier D'étoiles as their next stop. Unfortunately, the administrator of the Fragment changed her mind and refused them entry, forcing them to sail to a different transition zone instead.

With the bar for outside interaction set a bit lower by now, given Alex's continued support, and at request of Yamiko, Sekai got in touch with Erika Kuronue to tell her as much about Yamiko's current situation as anything claiming to be a summary allowed [#055]. Subsequently, Erika was given access to Mer so she could stay in touch with her wife [#057].

While the group was heading toward their alternative transition zone - the one to Genos - Maple lost her access as well. Sekai and Evé discussed the entrapment situation a few more times, ranging from what to do about Teranyina tracking them to theories about the propagation of the glitch - and the theory of hardware arrangement of data first came up [#056], but was dismissed since they both suspected more Denizens should be affected if that were true. Also spurned by the increasing problems, the idea of a second Sanctuary came up between Zacharie and Patri and they roped in Alex to do some real world research on hardware for them [#054]. As a parallel project, Alex began work on Synera, introducing her after some Sanctuary-related red tape was finally worked through, shortly before the group reached their new transition point [#058].

[6] plotline // genos

The transition into the entirely Denizen-evacuated, human-avatared Genos stripped Sekai of her access mid-transition, prompting her to advise for caution... and warm up the theory of vicinity in hardware. Discovering, with Patri's help, that Genos was hosted entirely on its own blade and the chance of their rearrangement in physical memory to reduce latency was extremely high (and with no other Denizens and their associated existing Fragment-bound data to serve as 'buffer' between any of the incoming Denizens) they conclude that Genos should be quarantined and that the infected Denizens should be the only ones to enter. Gunther ignored this advice, wanting to stay with Maple - but Mikko sensibly stayed on the Mer side of the border. With no administrative help available to the Denizens, vulnerable to Teranyina if she found the transition zone and passed through it, Patri severed the transition zone to Genos to keep the errant Puppet out of the Fragment [#059].

Mikko subsequently visited Zacharie to break the news of his wife's entrapment to him - but found that not only had Zacharie already found this out, but believed the best solution to the situation at that point was to shut off the Genos server blade, erasing all traces of the glitch [#068]. Thankfully, even with all the influence Zacharie had on the network, he lacked the power to make that immediate reality.

Not every Denizen in Sanctuary took the quarantine that was announced for Genos seriously, however. It didn't take long for Nanabozho to be far too intrigued by the story and decide to keep his acquaintance Sekai company, come hell or high water. He'd initially hoped he might also have a chance of disproving the current theory about the infection's transmission and provide them with the help of an untrapped Denizen, to boot, but was instantly trapped without access like the others on entering Genos. As such, he had to settle for trying to be emotional support for the group - having something of the opposite effect on Sekai, who was upset that he's walked into that with his eyes wide open [#060].

The first night after her entrapment, Sekai's nightmares led her to the unpleasant conscious realisation that her husband was probably not on her side any more - she knew him well, after all, and as shaken by her situation as she was, concerns that had previously not affected her (she'd always prided herself in being able to talk Zacharie out of anything) became potentially life-threatening. Spurned by this, she urged the group to get out of the Fragment somehow [#061].

While they travelled, Nanabozho got to know Nokogiri, discovering that he still hadn't gotten trapped in the same way as the others (though his test of that turned out to be a strange ritual, given his chosen lack of access made the conventional tests impossible)... and why that might be [#062].

Unfortunately, Genos turned out to be a quite unforgiving setting for travel. Even with precautions taken and dangerous times or places avoided to best of ability with Synera's help, while questing for weapons to help them against the hazards of the world the group was ambushed by one of the native monsters. It dragged Maple and Zeitaro into the depths of buried ruins. Nokogiri took after them, hoping to intervene, but barely even distracted the monster as it killed Maple. It took the arrival of a Puppet Yyran (a Drone (a human-shaped bioengineered 'monster') with a Dragon called Lekesh) to prevent either of them from suffering the same fate (even if it would only have meant a respawn for Nokogiri). It was in the interaction that followed that it became apparent that the Fragment identified Nokogiri - still recognisable as a Denizen by all subroutines - as a half-Drone, unlike Zeitaro [#063]. Trying to convince the Drone to help them any more than with immediate shelter didn't get anywhere, unfortunately, the Drone far too preoccupied with Nokogiri's 'purpose' and not interested in dealing in the fates of human beings [#064].

Instead, Yyran led the both of them to a place where he made Nokogiri search for what he might have once been designed for as that he might make himself useful again. The Denizen used the opportunity to brush up on his understanding of the world in the meanwhile, regretting that he hadn't fully listened to everything Synera told them about the setting, unsure if he should even be helping Yyran or if that was akin to succumbing to the 'Dark Side of the Force' or otherwise a threat for the others of the group... Zeitaro first and foremost, whose well-being he was deeply concerned about. The other Denizen was at the very least quite depressed over Maple's death - but Nokogiri's attempt to talk to him to snap him out of it had the opposite effect, revealing without a doubt that Zeitaro was upset with him for simply carrying on after Maple's death, not understanding that he'd done this as not to make them targets of Yyran [#065].

Elsewhere, the rest of the Denizen group, quite sure that they'd permanently lost all three of their companions (with the exception of a respawning Nokogiri), had temporarily settled in a village, hoping for a reprieve. It was short-lived; the village was taken by one of the Fragment factions (the Empire) in search of an artefact. Unsure whether to fear for their safety much as they had on Nado, they tried to discover what fate was planned for the city - was it supposed to be erased from the map once the invaders were done? - but nothing conclusive was revealed [#066]. Despite strict instructions from the invaders not to leave, they snuck out at next opportunity. Unfortunately, the group's efforts were discovered and they lost Sekai and Nanabozho to the frantic scramble out of range - as a whole, successful, and not important enough to the Puppets to pursue at length.

Meanwhile, Yyran decided that Nokogiri and Zeitaro would simply accompany him along his own, self-chosen purpose: Fixing and reactivating the massive bio-engineered Towers that the Ancients built to heal an industry- and war-tattered planet through terraforming (and population control, but that wasn't Yyran's focus at all). Nokogiri's concerns about Zeitaro and his authorisation to join Yyran at first were handwaved away [#067], then inspired Yyran to remove the 'half-' part of Nokogiri's half-Drone existence.

It was through that alteration that Nokogiri finally understood that while Yyran would do nothing to actively kill Zeitaro, the trapped Denizen was a burden to the Drone and wouldn't be rescued a second time if the Tower did turn on him. In an effort to combat that effect, Nokogiri applied what he'd learnt about his own transformation to Zeitaro... without his consent [#071]. Needless to say, that didn't help their relationship in the least. On top of that, the moment Yyran discovered what happened, he got angry with Nokogiri - all things considered, Drones were still at least indirect servants of human beings, so beginning to turn a human into a Drone violated the fundamentals Yyran lived by. He gave Zeitaro express clearance to punish Nokogiri, which the free Denizen endured and the trapped Denizen briefly relished [#072].

With the score even, Zeitaro's guilt driving him to rethink his entire approach to Nokogiri's behaviour and Nokogiri forgiving his outburst, the two Denizens managed to form a loose friendship. By the time they reached the first Tower, they'd learnt to trust each other. The Tower, itself sentient, extended a perhaps too friendly psychic greeting to the two new Drones that left both of them a little confused and concerned by the degree they were both at whim of the Fragment's sensory manipulation - and wary of the Tower [#073].

In parallel, Zacharie was talking to other admins on the Sanctuary network, trying to get enough support to be able to shut down the Genos blade. At least one of them (Snapdragon) called him out on his insanity - but was unable to convince him to try a different path. However, Snapdragon did discover that Patri and Zacharie had worked on a 'second Sanctuary' for a while before and Patri was still pursuing the matter [#074]. In consequence, he got in touch with Patri, finding out that since the source code was a branch of Sanctuary's he'd unfortunately need to ask the core admins to get access to it first [#075].

Focussing on the Fragment plot - bound to Yyran and the Tower by lack of mobility - Nokogiri and Zeitaro helped Yyran investigate the Tower's hidden machinery. With most systems functional but dormant, they found a fungal infection lining the root-like subterranean expanse of it that Yyran could make no rhyme or reason of. After fruitless searches through the sources of information available to him, Yyran decided that they'd have to search for other places to get information. He himself, at least, is unable to innovate - Drones weren't designed to come up with novel solutions.

Yyran uncovered a Dragon from the Tower for Nokogiri, allowing him to bond with the creature. Giving her the name Yaisiri, Nokogiri took the chance to leave the Tower as instructed... with Zeitaro and without any intention to return. After all, it was very important to find and return to the others - and get the hell out of the Fragment before something happened to it owing to outside intervention.

Needless to say, Yyran wasn't particularly happy about this once he caught on. At current, he's hunting after the two, using the astral network Sestren to pinpoint their location. Fortunately, the distance between them is great enough that Yyran doesn't pose an immediate threat, but the Drone barely sleeps and that distance won't stay large forever.

Meanwhile, the main group's mostly managed to find themselves a group of tame Coolias (beasts of burden), taken from a place mostly destroyed by monsters, making their own travels a little easier. The first transition zone they managed to reach denied them access to the Fragment beyond, but they've not given up yet. With Synera's help, they're well-equipped to navigate the world, even if they're still not exactly armed.

Sekai and Nanabozho, however, are stranded on their own. While no longer prisoners of the Empire - forgiven and instead put into service of the technologically advanced culture - they've lost all contact with the others and from their perspective are presumed (as with Maple and Zeitaro) dead. The chances they'll be found are slim - but not non-existent.

[7] plotline // offline

In the offline world, a plane crash mercifully near Dark Arcadia left Sara Aru'ak stranded without her passport [#003]. She met one of the locals, Ian, while navigating through unexpected paperwork issues trying to get home [#005]. He later 'stumbles across' her while she was despairing over the road blocks [#017]. He offered her a place to stay and a crash course in Arcan culture - and revealed himself, while not a registered Arcan, as quite a bit of an oddity: A psychic prodigy [#025].

While fishing for other takes on the basic system (in the most obvious, public sort of way; by literally waving a sign around asking for help), Sara was discovered by Francisco Ahlgren, Archon of the micronation, proceeding to try to be helpful despite her reservations against his person [#040].

The person she trusted more, her host, ironically struggled a little to keep himself in check, not (yet) deeming it fair to take advantage of his guest - and decided to get rid of some excess energy by hunting down an old acquaintance and fashion a lovingly crafted nightmare for him [#051].

Oblivious to this, Sara dug a bit further into the polycentric legal system, trying to get comfortable with her new home [#053]. It makes her ask more questions than it answers, but she eventually does 'adopt the culture by osmosis' - certainly feeling herself a perpetual foreigner, frightened by some of the local customs and weirded out by others, but forced to adapt by her home nation still refusing to acknowledge her existence as a citizen.

For the time being, Ian's still treating her cordially.

[8] closing words

While finite time happened, it was a roughly ten hour ordeal. I've said it before and I'll likely say it again - don't make me put off newslettering, catching up to too much plot takes forever.

A huge thanks also goes out to Reh for reading over this monster before I sent it, making sure I didn't have a brain glitch anywhere and helping me write coherent sentences. Coherent sentences are totally a bitch to write. But we did this. We made it happen.

Now I need a vacation.