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Author Topic: Dossier: The Crew's System and the primary danger to Guardian mission  (Read 3380 times)

Flatstompa

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((After ages I've finally scrounged up the motivation to write up some of the ideas spooking around in my head, may as well share. This isn't the start of an rp, but I'd consider it information that is available to any Guardian who is interested. Comment or ask questions as you want...maybe it'll inspire me to flesh it out further.))

Guardians heading into the crew's home system will find that it is superficially similar to many modern-day settings. Magic does exist, but is relatively low-powered - the system background states that more powerful magic was possible in the past before the level of magic declined and stabilized at current levels. Most magical beings, rare as they are, are either rodent scale or incorporeal and largely harmless. Of special interest is the fact that the system is unusually resistant to intrusion by beings and technology which have not naturally developed in the system, which may result in automatic conversion upon entry. Humans and sentient animals are unaffected, magically talented visitors may find their power greatly reduced, and advanced technology sometimes is converted into devices similar in function, with a much more roughshod appearance and decrease in reliability. Humanoid non-humans will likely be transformed into the closest analogue. (We have not had an opportunity to see what happens to Anthropomorphic Animals). All of these effects are easily countered through CM use, at least temporarily. This does not usually place a strict time limit on missions as a CM will work for days before declining in effectiveness.

Human authorities may be a bit slower to respond to unusual phenomena and may occasionally seem oblivious to extra-normal activities. Due to the nature of the system, ordinary people (and by extension, ordinary police and other government agencies are heavily predisposed towards disregarding signs pointing towards extra-normal (to them) beings or events.

However, Guardians should be aware that they should not take this to mean they can be overly obvious and/or destructive in fulfilling their missions. The primary risk posed to Guardian operations in the system is a global organisation called Status Quo. While animal/human cooperation is not unheard of in the system, Status Quo is the single largest example of such cooperation.

SQ operates on multiple levels, and most low level operatives will be unaware of the full extend of the organization's activities. They should not be targeted for extraction of information. Only high level SQ agent could in any sense be considered to be nearing awareness – they have been presented with reports about incursions into the system by extra-dimensionals and as such, believe in multiple alternate dimensions without knowing any specifics. The very nature of the system has made it difficult to deal with incursions without natives taking note at some point.

On the lowest, local level, Status Quo merely assists animal communities in monitoring human construction or demolition efforts and offer help in clearing signs of rodent habitation from sites that will soon become unlivable (buildings being demolished, Exterminators being hired, or in some areas of the world, loging efforts destroying habitats.) Occasionally low level sabotage is used to delay such activities to buy more time. On this level, employees are only peripherally aware of Status Quo's global nature. No, or extremely few, humans are employed on this level.

On a regional or, in some parts of the world national level, Status Quo agents monitor and coordinate efforts. They may know of, or been stationed at some of the organization's hidden bases. Unlike low level personnel, these agents may be either human or animal and will be aware of SQ operations outside of their immediate task. Status Quo keeps an impressive network of contacts among animals worldwide, the coordinators in this level will likely be the first ones to order a closer look at unusual activity caused by Guardians and other intruders. They also coordinate the organization's covert influences on various human institutions or corporate entities, as well as Status  Quo front companies, which in themselves are usually viable businesses. As part of Status Quo's pre-awareness mission statement, it funds and conducts research worldwide in a wide variety of fields.

Operations on this level are highly complex as often unprofitable research is funded with money from completely unrelated companies. Status Quo is ostensibly unconcerned with profit projections for research into curing rare diseases, clean energy sources and other, highly theoretical fields. On the other hand the Administration does not hesitate to use underhanded tactics to ensure their front companies remain competitive or to steal research results to aid their own efforts. Nonetheless, these activities have no bearing on Guardian missions into the system beyond the usual – do not leave equipment behind that could be reverse-engineered, as the organization has recently begun attempting to turn unstable products of 'mad science' (captured or produced by meta-scientists loyal to the cause) into save, marketable and most importantly, patentable devices or improvements to earn profit with. On this level, Status Quo also employs agents acting against overt threat to the secret, such as animals (or groups of them) acting against humans in an obviously hostile and coordinated manner or well-connected humans threatening to present proof of animal intelligence (the average citizen is usually ridiculed or declared insane and not dealt with by SQ in such a case). Trained security forces on this level are likely the first to respond to any suspected extra-dimensional activity. Depending on the region and availability, these can be proper agents or hired thugs/security forces employed by front businesses. They know how to handle a weapon, but are normally inferior to trained Guardians.

On global level, Status Quo employs their most veteran agents, as well as the occasional meta-talent (SQ terms for individuals with special powers granted by means of magic, technology, or mutation).  Due to the nature of the system, meta-talents are both rare and usually less powerful than many Guardians, if their abilities can be applied in combat at all. It is more likely that Guardians will face mundane, yet highly trained humans. Rarely, the organization has been seen to employ remotely controlled robotic drones of comparatively crude design. Deployment of these is usually accompanied by a cover-up connecting them to evil-doers who are known to be technologically inclined. However, the response time of these agents is as of yet presumed to be poor, as Status Quo has not had sufficient time to develop the numbers or deployment infrastructure for global coverage. Additionally, on all levels of the organization, animals (usually diminutive) far outnumber humans (discounting employees without combat training and not in on the secret), further limiting Status Quo's ability to consistently field adequate forces to counter normal humanoid threats. The Administration is aware of this shortcoming and claims to be hard at work to rectify this in some manner.
 
Missions into Status Quo bases staffed by humans should use caution, as security forces may be equipped with unusual weaponry or devices beyond the norm of a modern-day setting, especially if the site is known to house one or more 'mad scientists' (or meta-scientists, using organization terminology). Such bases are likely to be equipped with whatever devices Status Quo has developed to detect strains on the local fabric of reality, which appear to be caused by using powers or technology more advanced than what one would usually encounter in the system. High-powered magical beings or highly unlikely Black Box/plot device technology are likely to be detected even without active power use during an attempted infiltration, as the system itself resists their presence and causes very clear readings on similar, Guardian-designed devices.

To summarize: On any given mission, Guardians run a high risk of detection by low level animal agents from high or low, but usually unseen vantage points should they use their powers too obviously.  There is a medium risk of armed response by trained, but usually not experienced security forces, depending on how quickly and covertly teams move. Their response time is reasonably quick closer to population centers and longer the further from large human cities the mission takes place. Depending further on whether Guardians evade their opposition or defeat them decisively, there is a low risk of facing highly trained and well-armed Status Quo agents, who may occasionally field experimental technology designed to counter extra-normal threats. The response times of these teams tends to be low. Guardians are advised to attempt to stay undetected. Should they suspect that Status Quo has been alerted, decisive movement and quick completion of the mission should be prioritized to avoid engagements.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 03:14:10 am by Flatstompa »
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Flatstompa

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Document: Intro Dossier to a SQ Base
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2009, 03:04:26 am »

A contact in the organization was able to provide us with a sort of intro dossier to one of Status Quo's more noteworthy installations - it may even warrant a mission eventually to take a more detailed look at the described anomaly. Footnotes were added by a member of the Frostclaw crew.

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Welcome, Agent, to Dimensional Research Site 01 (formerly Depot 0033). DR-01 is the first in a (planned) line of secluded bases tasked with research on anomalous entities and their effects on normal, Euclidean space. You have been assigned here for exemplary loyality to the organization and its cause, as well as a degree of mental fortitude that should allow you to resist low- to mid-level psychic compulsions for brief periods of time.

The events of the past years have proven beyond any doubt the existence of extra-dimensional outsiders (referred to as EDOs), and though Status Quo's original mission statement did not take any such thing into consideration, the organization's global, covert nature makes us ideally suited to counter many potential EDO incursions below Alien Invasion/End-of-the-World scenario levels while simultaneously driving forward research to prepare ourselves for such worst case events. The Administration is confident that our experienced CFD agents (1) will be able to cover up many, if not all, localized incursion events.

Though 'magic' exists in our world, it has become increasingly uncommon and of the Meta-Talents employed by Status Quo, only a minority derives their special abilities from magical sources or skills. Conversely, the organization's first encounter with overtly hostile EDOs left our agents to face powers considerably more potent than what has been observed in our world. (For details, see „Slaver Incident“ in the SQ database.)(2).

Research has since then lead to the development of instruments for the detection of such abnormally high levels of reality-alteration, during which our researchers also became aware of the reason you are here today: The lowest, unused level of Depot 0033 was found to contain a phenomenon which is either a weakness in the local fabric of reality or, more worrying, a hairline fissure. One of the top priorities of the newly converted DR-01 is therefore the reinforcement of local reality or closure of the fissure, whichever is determined to be neccessary. Additionally, in the case of EDO incursion, Site 01 is staffed by a contingent of veteran security forces.

Though most of the research staff is made up of conventional scientists, there are a number of trusted meta-scientists on site. Under no circumstances should personnel refer to these individuals as 'mad scientiests', 'madboys' or 'insane'. Though they are, as all Meta-Scientists working for the organization, being treated for their Malign Hypercognition Disorder(3), certain impulses might trigger a relapse into mental instability and uncooperativeness. For more information, see the profiles of Dr. Dipole and Professor Prisma. Under normal circumstances, they spend most of their time secluded in the workshop area of level two. They are cleared to request volunteers for various tests and you are cleared to volunteer while not on regular duty shifts. Habitation areas are on the ground level. The two upper levels have not been refurbished as of this writing and remain unused for the time being.

Special notes: While on site, you will be issued, in addition to your usual equipment, one pair of handcuffs (no keys) and one cyanide capsule. Due to the nature of our work here, should you feel in any way ill, light headed or otherwise mentally incapacitated, DO NOT report to the medical bay or seek contact to other agents. Instead, fasten yourself securely to whatever solid object may be available, attempt to seal all connecting doors and await retrieval by our trained professionals.
Remember, mental or magical domination by extra-dimensional outsiders is a very real threat - if you suspect EDO influence on your thoughts or actions, you are meant to take steps to minimize the danger you pose to yourself and others. In case of a worst case scenario, you are issued with a personal cyanide capsule to use at your discretion. Status Quo hates to lose its trusted agents, but it may be for the good of the operation - or at least preferable to the alternative. (4)

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(1)Counter-Factual Details, in the past primarily tasked with removing evidence of animal intelligence, preventing anyone „in the know“ from revealing the Secret and altering public/private  records to provide SQ agents with various ID documents able to withstand extensive background checks. Have been known to alter (or create) criminal records, unpaid parking tickets or frame people for various computer crimes to discredit them.
(2)In short: Magically talented rogue elements dominated animals to use as unwilling agents in systems not used to dealing with sentient beings the size of rodents.  SQ agents destroyed their (presumed stolen) jaunt equipment, rogue elements eventually caught by Baalus Seth before they could be caught and questioned by system natives. No collateral damage except the rogues' vehicle, no natives hurt. Mission considered successful under the circumstances. Disruptions in other systems were repaired.
(3) They came up with that one to explain why some unconventional geniuses don't just legitimately make money instead of spending heaps of money on a dozen robots to do evil with.
(4)These guys are really paranoid about that kind of thing. Guardians with applicable powers should exercise caution, targets may react unpredictably.


« Last Edit: December 23, 2012, 10:13:00 pm by Flatstompa »
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Flatstompa

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Re: Dossier: The Crew's System and the primary danger to Guardian mission
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 04:11:58 pm »

Status Quo Incident Report P34-C

Localized Incursion Event

Date: [REDACTED]

Location: [REDACTED]

Preamble: The incursion was detected when a satellite with the appropiate equipment passed over the area. Due to the limited number of commercial satellites launched by companies under our control since the development of the technology, coverage is incomplete. The precise timing of the incident is not known.

Of further importance is that the incursion occured close to the known residence of a minor meta-talent. The talent had declined to use his minor psychic abilities in service of the organisation, but had been deemed mostly harmless and kept under light observation only.

Sequence of known events:

0300 (local time): Observation team fails to contact regional supervisor for 30 minute check-in. Death, capture or incapacitation assumed. Several units of Mobile Taskforce Belfry Blue Epsilon (aka "The Heap") are activated as the closest available combatants. ETA: 80 minutes. Assets for media obfuscation are placed on alert.

0310: Local non-combat employees contacted and advised to report anything unusual.

0320: Local supervisor reports reestablished contact with observation team. Reports team in distress, but following local meta-talent.

Audio Log:

SV: ....report in please, over.

OT: *prolonged static* We have movement...

SV: Finally! This is local control to OT-1, your equipment die on ya? Report your status, over.

OT: ....when he walks across a street the lights go out. His presence in cars makes them stop. Their axles break...

SV: The hell are you...

OT: We cannot film him anymore. He blinds and deafens all of man's creations. We follow the trail of decaying plastics which should have lasted FOREVER. We know there is gas and sewage pouring up from the ground but we have to KNOW where he is going.

SV: Okay, just stay calm, and whatever you do, keep your distance. We'll have someone pick you up. Don't do anything rash. Over.

OT: We wonder if he will break us, too. We have seen bodies which have rotted like fruit in a hot sun. The lamps are out but light is collecting on the ground, it has forgotten what drives it.

--------------------------------------------------------------

0330: Further local assets are activated to cover up local phenomena as far as possible. Scientific personell and equipment are dispatched to measure the strain on local reality more closely. False emergency calls are made all over town to tie up local law enforcement.

0345: Meta-talent is reported to be heading out of town, followed by roughly a dozen unknown civilians. Observation team seen to follow at great distance.

0400: Signs of violence along the meta-talent's path in town have been cleaned up without exposure to local authority. Science-teams report unprecedented levels of strain on local reality, but visible effects are slowly beginning to fade.

0430: MTF "The Heap" arrives at final location of the target, a remote, two-story farmhouse. Generous perimeter is established, including searchlights, mounted machineguns and mortars.

0440: A single fireteam of four agents is sent to sweep the building room by room. Contact is lost immediatly once the team enters the dead zone within which electronics apparently fail to operate in proximity of the target.

0450: Repeated gunfire and screams are heard. Single fireteam member returns to perimeter and reports spectral voices, bleeding walls and poltergeist activity, followed by direct psychic assaults causing team members to mutate and turn on each other. Survivor self-terminates upon displaying delayed signs of mutation and violent impulses.

0500: Regional overwatch approves use of experimental pharmaceutics to fortify psychic resistances. Second team is assembled.

Video Log of team leader's helmet camera:

Visible scene consists of a rural farm. Farm building is visible in the background, unmarked vans and semi-trailers of various colors are visible along the periphery. Team leader appears to be handing out syringes and pills to his 3 team mates. All are currently wearing helmets with full facemasks along with bulky armored vests. The shortest speaks up, apparently female.

"Telekill, boss? You know it's barely been tested on humans, right? I mean, the administration knows, right?"

"Yeah, sure they know, Gnat." Where the female seems five feet tall at best, the speaker now is nearly seven feet tall and so thick with slabs of muscle that he almost seems deformed. "Figure they just volunteered us for a medical trial, eh?"

The communication equipment in each one's helmet springs to live. Faint movement is visible at the farmhouse. "Heads up fireteam, movement at the farm...look out!"

Four grotesquely deformed figures are now lit up by searchlights and begin running towards the camera before being taken down by machinegun fire from several directions. They do not die easily.

Once things are quiet again the camera turns back to the rest of the team. "He's right. Sure SQ always does right by us but The Heap isn't exactly a top flight taskforce. So we take a gamble on this stuff keeping the enemy from planting tentacle monsters in our heads and the eggheads get to look at the results during the mandatory post-op check. Or the autopsy. Now take your meds. Depending on whether or not this place was occupied before, we still have to expect a dozen monsters between us and the target.

"Carpenter to Iguana, proceed when your team is ready. Be advised that the entire building will be incinerated should you fail to report back within the established timeframe. Over."

"Roger that, Carpenter. About to engage. Over."

The camera turns to face the third, quiet agent. "Words of the day, Bookworm?"

"There are times when destiny calls forth a people and demands an action. Now is the time. We are the people. This is our action. Charge!"

"Where's that from?" "Magic card." "Yer one hell of a dork. Anyway, saddle up, we've got monsters to hunt."

The camera approaches the building before the feed cuts out.

----------------------------------------------------------

0515: The building is successfully cleared. 14 further abberations and the meta-talent are terminated. No further fatalities on our side.

0525: All bodies are removed and the building carefully disinfected over the next hours.

Addendum: Pictures of extra-normal phenomena have appeared on various ghost hunting and conspiracy pages on the internet. Mainstream media quickly lost interest. Phenomena dissapeared as local reality returned to normal without outside prompting. Situation contained. Agents [REDACTED] ("Gnat" and "Bookworm") required extensive medical care due to late-manifesting conflicts between established combat stimulants and experimental "Telekill" injections. Entire team quarantined for observation the following weeks. No apparent mental after-effects detected. Telekill refinement continues. Not yet ready to be used without authorization from regional overwatch. Observation team given mandatory counseling and taken off-duty for the time being.

It has been theorized that the meta-talent had been subconsciously prodding at a weakness in local space-time with his psychic abilities until he was possesed by an EDO. It is not known whether he left his home on his own volition before losing control of himself or whether it was part of the possessing entity's plan. Regretably, almost nothing new was learned by the administration. However, science teams have noted that despite the unprecedented amount of strain on local reality, normality has re-asserted itself with no measurable after-effects in the aftermath of the EDO's passing.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 02:56:45 am by Flatstompa »
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Flatstompa

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Re: Dossier: The Crew's System and the primary danger to Guardian mission
« Reply #3 on: August 18, 2012, 11:21:15 pm »

Dosier update:

Despite a complete lack of active play from the Primary, the system has remained largely stable. However, observations indicate an increase in porousness - incidents of deliberate or accidental incursions by factions or beings from other systems/Jauntspace have increased slightly. As the system is not in use by Primary natives any longer, and its technological and magical achievements are comparatively primitive compared to what is available to entities or factions actively hostile to the Gaming Guardians, issues of system stability or theft of material have been designated as 'of Least Concern'.

Despite this, observation of the system-internal organisation Status Quo will continue for the foreseeable future - while the system's reality has not been lastingly affected by incursion events, Status Quo has taken note of, and reacted to their increased frequency by stepping up recruitment efforts on all levels of activity and begun propagating the Multiverse Theory as scientifically proven among animal populations. (Due to the system's nature, humanity remains largely ignorant of animal intelligence, most incursion events and Status Quo's growing global influence in general - adult human system natives have been oberved to be unusually skilled at explaining away or disbelieving facts that run counter to accepted normalcy - they are not, as a whole, at particular risk of developing Awareness).

Most of Status Quo's activities are comparatively benign, or irrelevant to the Guardians' mission. Observers report that while much of the system's human history runs parallel to that of the Primary, the lack of GM oversight in the past decade or more has led to increasing divergences of events in more politically volatile regions of the world. More stable political entities are thought to be sufficiently entrenched to slow the rate of divergence considerably. Covert animal influence on human politics (usually, but not always, instigated or faciliated by Status Quo) is the primary factor in these divergences, when they occur. Detailed documentation on the topic is available to Guardians with the required clearance.  Projections indicate that Status Quo's efforts to capture and rehabilitate rogue or 'mad' scientists to harness their unconventional genius will accelerate technological progress in the coming years or decades - our informants report that currently, 'mad science' is not trivially replicated, and Status Quo employs teams of conventionally trained specialists attempting to reproduce any such unconventional devices in a way that allows them to be mass produced for use by field agents, or as a revenue stream for Status Quo front organisations.

Continueing efforts to increase webs of informants and surveilance coverage, as well as the decreasing of response times have made Guardian missions to the system increasingly risky. Even when an insertion is performed unobserved, it is becoming increasingly likely that Status Quo assets arrive on the scene prior or during the mission. Risk re-assessment is currently in progress, but current operation procedures require that the amount of new knowledge or technology gained by Status Quo during containment of incursion events be kept to a minimum through Guardian efforts, which has led to conflicts between SQ and GG field teams. The total number of such incidences remain low, yet are on the rise. With increasing frequency, SQ field teams encountered in this way contain, are supported by, or composed of, unconventional assets or equipment.

Attached to this dosier update is a recruitment/propaganda video produced by Status Quo. It, and others like it, are being circulated in animal communities and the organisation itself to increase willingness to join Status Quo and motivate current noncombatant members to volunteer for training as a field agent. It showcases equipment in action and contains footage of various incursion events.


------Opening Attachment------

White text on Black screen, text is also narrated.  "Status Quo needs no introduction. Most of you are aware of the services we provice to communities living in human settlements or within zones of human commercial interest to preserve their, and our, way of life. But many of you will be surprised to hear that a humanity that learns too much, too soon, is not the only, or perhaps, the worst danger to our lives."

Text and background are replaced with video footage, narration continues. "Every day, worldwide, Status Quo field teams combat threats both mundane and fantastical." Video footage first shows a brief sequence of armed, black-clad agents raiding an animal research laboratory, non-fatally subdueing security personal and researchers. Scene changes to nighttime, farmhouse surrounded by vehicles and floodlights, armed personnel firing on several strongly mutated humans charging at them from the building.  "The worst of these threats are monsters or influences from outside our very reality. Who are they? What do they want?  Their motivations are a mystery, but the danger is concrete and immediate.  As humanity remains blissfully ignorant, our agents face threats to our freedom and safety that, if uncontained, could lay waste to entire cities!

The display is quartered to show various videos of animal agents in the field as the duration continues. Rats arming a bomb in a ventilation shaft, birds and bats carrying headsets taking off, various rodents operating an automatic, vehicle mounted mortar system, a mouse (wearing obvious ear protection) in a small cockpit unit attached to a large quad-autocannon turret. "Our human agents are few in number, but they are assisted by brave support personnel as much as their stature allows. Join up today and do your part!

Fade to black again as narration continues. "However, even with your support, our field agents are stretched too thin to respond with enough force to every incident in a timely manner."
Video begins showing a scene of devastation. Background suggests a desert area, foreground shows remains of a small village, seemingly destroyed by fire and intense heat - sand on the ground turned to glass, corrugated metal warped, wooden structures reduced to cinders, shapes on the ground suggest corpses burnt beyond recognition. The entire scene suggests immense heat. In the background, a large draconic shape is seen soaring through the sky.

"But maybe you think you have what it would take to face impossible odds? To go out and risk it all to keep innocents from learning what the multiverse truly has in store for us? Maybe you can! Our finest minds are working to allow you to meet and exceed the potential of a human agent to combat our enemies."

Naration momentarily ceases as footage is shown of various bipedal combat units, roughly human-sized but bulkier, engaging in a firefight with unseen enemies, carrying conventional weaponry. Their movements are jerky and halting, but their resilience in the face of small arms fire is obvious. The camera pans over to one firing a large automatic shotgun, and a caption appears. 'Mechanized Assault Exosuit.

Scene changes to what appears to be a cockpit camera viewpoint, surrounding area appears to be jungle, POV unit is moving in concert with other bipedal units, lower and wider in profile, with legs bent backwards like a bird's, and a cockpit unit reminiscent of a fighter craft with arms and a top mounted weapon rack. Caption reads "Prototype Personal Trooper". These move with considerably higher smoothness and speed than the previous examples.

Final scene shift to another unit, humanoid like the first one, but far bulkier, with an integrated plate shield on one arm and some manner of firearm integrated into the other arm. This one is not shown in action, merely standing still with the caption "Tactical Sentinel Armor."

Narration continues as the video begins cycling through the previous 3 scenes. "Apply today for a chance to join the Powered Armor Division as a test pilot. Help develop the means for you and your peers to stand against whatever lurks beyond our reality. Pledge your courage and your life to protect our world."

Scene shifts again, to a camera mounted on a flying vehicle. POV pans from a very large, bulky helicopter with sidemounted missile pods and nose-gun to a dragon. Arid landscape suggests it is the dragon from an earlier scene. The beast is enormous. The dragon avoids a stream of tracers, twists its serpentine neck to face backwards and unleashes a focused beam of fire. Camera pans back to show the attack glancing past the far side of the helicopter. An explosion rocks the vehicle and it begins plummeting to the ground, minus one missile pod and with gaping hole in the side, vomiting great plumes of smoke, debris and bodies, obviously too small to be human. The camera refocuses on the dragon before impact. Further tracers originating from the camera's vehicle rakes the dragon. As it twists in pain, missiles streak towards it, pierce its hide and punch out the other side in a spray of blood and scales - kinetic penetrators, apparently. As the dragon begins to fall, the voice-over resumes. 

"The cost of the battles which wait for us will be sacrifice, loss, backbreaking toil, blood, and grief. For your service, we will provide you and your family with expert healthcare and unprecedented educational opportunities. In the event of your demise in the discharge of your duties, your next of kin or a limited number of other close relations will continue to be eligible for these benefits. Status Quo. Protect Today for a better Tomorrow."

Fade to black.
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Flatstompa

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Re: Dossier: The Crew's System and the primary danger to Guardian mission
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2012, 10:37:00 pm »

Technological Divergence

Technological Divergence, in this context, refers to the proliferation, or use, of devices or concepts which are not in use in the Primary, be it due to engineering problems, as is the case with practical fusion power, or due to the fact that the laws of physics would simply prevent their functioning, which would seem to apply to many devices commonly constructed and used by archetypical 'mad' scientists (1).

Because the initial documentation regarding the system (GM notes from this point on) are not, and have never been, available to us, it is difficult to predict which sort of devices and concepts are possible, or, indeed, permissible within the system's reality. Additionally, much of a system's inner workings are determined not only by whatever details were put to paper in the GM notes, but also by the undocumented, but sometimes verbally expressed or at least implied ideas and preferences of GM and players - a campaign is often (but not always) a cooperative effort between both parties.

As such, campaign settings, even those detailed in official rulebooks, are often subject to the bleed-over phenomenon, where ideas, factions, or technologies from one form of entertainment the GM or players enjoy might also appear in similar form in the campaign and therefore, system, as the GM introduces them. This also implies that, even now that the Crew's system is no longer in use, entities or technologies from other systems the GM enjoyed, or would have considered introducing himself, might acclimate or function better within its boundaries than those that are completely foreign to the system's parameters, and unpopular with its users.

Technological Divergence usually occurs in systems that have, by fiat of author or GM, Primary-equivalent human societies and levels of technology for the common citizens, but extraordinary technologies in use by a select group of individuals or organizations. In the period between cessation of play and the system's ultimate dissolution (if applicable), the technology fiat weakens, and system natives, usually motivated by profit (or the discovery of system-foreign technologies after incursions) copy and disseminate technology that, as per the documentation, should not have been widely available, despite possible civilian applications.


Divergence in the Crew's System


The main points of Divergence within this particular system is the emergence of practical fusion power generation decades ahead of Primary projections, partially through the help of system-native unconventional scientists, partly due to (suspected) contamination by outside technology. However, fusion power is still considered untested, especially since it has been developed independent of ITER, officially through cooperation of various corporations and governments based in newly industrialized nations.(2) As such, the first commercial fusion reactors are situated in South America and Africa (coincidentally, these regions are more readily manipulated by Status Quo than major western powers with entrenched energy infrastructure).

Another point of divergence is the reappearance of commercial airships in parts of the world. As far as we are aware, Status Quo has been keeping tabs on, or even been involved in the HULA project (Hybrid Ultra Large Aircraft) from its inception to its cancellation in 2010. Today, such airships are beginning to be used to transport bulk freight between and within developing and newly industrialized nations, as they require considerably less infrastructure to unload cargo. As many (but not all) of these are owned and operated by Status Quo through various proxies and fronts, they also represent an improvement of the organization's strategic airlift capability (though not to its response time).
Unlike the early appearance of fusion power, the re-emergence and refinement of the airship has not been traced to technological contamination - current theories suggest that it is based on their appeal to the previous GM (difficult to verify at this stage) and their perceived use to Status Quo in their efforts to transform the disparate developing nations of central and north Africa and parts of South America into stable and productive economic zones under their influence.



-----------------
(1) One example of this is the static electricity based 'Nimnul Capacitor' which really doesn't make a lot of sense according to Primary physics.

(2) Status Quo is known to be heavily invested in bridging the gap between Mad Science's outlandish advances and the population's automatic dismissal of anything running counter established normalcy through the MAYA (most advanced yet acceptable) approach.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 02:49:20 pm by Flatstompa »
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Flatstompa

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Re: Dossier: The Crew's System and the primary danger to Guardian mission
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 03:45:29 am »

The following is propaganda piece aimed at mid and high tier Status Quo operatives, it usually comes packaged with an offer or order (as appropiate) to transfer to the navy. Footnotes added after recovery of the document. We are almost entirely sure they would never have completed this thing without at least some degree of technological contamination and divergence.

Keeping an eye on the future deployment of this thing should give us some insight into how boldly Status Quo can operate in various parts of the world - it'd be hard to cover this up, or get everyone to agree not to shoot at it, one should think.

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Black screen, voice-over.
"The following is classified level Rho. Unauthorized access is punishable under the Status Quo Security Act, Atacama Accords, Section 21.3.5."

Imagery from various incursion events fade in as the narration continues - a dragon, mutated humans being gunned down, the twisted wreckage of some kind of mecha.
"We repeatedly vanquished intruders to our reality, but the hard questions remained. How would we confront the threat of future invasion? Outsiders might strike at any time, any place, without warning. How would we fight the next threat to the very existence of our world?"

Screen cuts to scene of a cavernous underground shipyard - a ship sits in a dry dock, connected to a body of water, a massive gate marks the other end of it, suggesting a connection to an outside sea.
"In 2004, on the tenth anniversary of the first known EDO incursion, (1) The Administration inaugurated an ambitious and unprecedented project: The SQS Charybdis."

As the voice talks, the camera pans around to view scaffolding, gantry cranes, human and animal workers of all sizes bustling about. The hull of the ship is equipped with thrusters and massive impeller fans. This thing would never fly in Primary. The ship itself seems like the heavily modified hull of decommissioned bulk freighter, rather than an all-new design.

"The Charybdis is the most powerful aerial vehicle ever constructed. Spanning 300 meters from bow to stern, its construction has taken over 7 years to complete.  Its state-of-the-art weaponry includes eight CIWS, six long-range anti-air missile launchers, six anti-ship missile batteries, and two experimental beam cannons.  The Charybdis wields more firepower than has ever been in the hands of animals. Four Helix class helicopters and 20 micro-craft (2) wings can be housed within its hangars, and its crew numbers over 2000." As the beam cannons are mentioned, the camera pans to view the vessel from the front, showing a bulbous lens structure near either side of the bow, like fish eyes.

The screen flips quickly through pictures of two individuals in lab coats and two logos belonging to the last two mentions.

"Among its major contributors are infamous names such as Prof. Prisma, the Overspark, Enginuity Inc. and the EnTrOx Corporation."(3)

Screen switches to a map of the world, first highlighting areas Status Quo is well established in, then blinking an angry red on various island chains, seas and oceans, as well as both poles. Bad response times indeed. Just as the narration nears its end, scene shifts again to a now evacuated hangar, showing the ship fire up its thrusters and fans and actually achieving lift, if teetered by various moorings.
"Status Quo is now entrenched on every continent, but response times in remote areas remain poor. Once deployed, the Charybdis will be able to respond to the most distant incursions swiftly and decisively, ensuring peace for today, and for generations to come." (4)




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(1) It's unknown whether this initial event was part of an intentional storyline or backstory, or an incursion that was, at the time, overlooked.
(2) Very small, very short range aircraft piloted by small animals, usually for recon or harassment. Of essentially no use against something they'd use all these other options against.
(3) The last is a Status Quo front, the first three all have operated on the wrong side of the law until getting recruited and/or pressganged. Their contribution essentially guarantees that this airship has a few more tricks than those mentioned in the video.
(4) Considering SQ is still heavily invested in developing spaceflight, they are probably not this confident that a fancy airship or ten are going to keep them save 'for generations to come'.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 01:21:14 am by Flatstompa »
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Status Quo and Private Military Companies.

Since Status Quo has continued problems recruiting human field agents, because few humans are both aware of animal sapience and also sufficiently motivated by either SQ's agenda, or the offered pay,  to be trustworthy, SQ has close, yet covert contacts with a wide range of PMCs across the globe.

While a small number of PMCs are close analogues to Primary-native PMCs, many others are more or less loosely controlled by Status Quo. This allows them to closely watch a large number of discharged military professionals. A minority prove suitable for direct SQ employment, but even those who do not are frequently contracted indirectly by SQ to provide training and security consultation in parts of the world where SQ has significant influence over local nations,  most notably within the recently formed North African Coalition (NAC) and the member states of the South-American Prosperity Pact. (Both political entities formed before or shortly after cessation of active play in the system, although SAPP rests on much of the same ground-work as the Primary UNASUR founded around the same time).

SQ-controlled PMCs are also partially responsible for the protection of the few functional fusion power plants recently completed in the system, as well as various corporate assets across the world, blurring the line between PMCs and private security companies.

As SQ control over these companies is somewhat loose, quality and reputation can vary widely, occasionally blurring the line between PMCs and outright mercenary companies. These are generally controlled in a more covert fashion instead of through SQ front companies concerned with their public relations.


Blueshift
is one of the more reputable PMCs controlled by SQ, and during the Turkmenistan crisis, was contracted (officially by the government, but likely with SQ's backing) to interface with local authorities and forces as well as patrol Zone border sections close to major civilian settlements, as Blueshift forces are both obviously mundane and can be trusted to treat civilians reasonably well, while at the same time being aware that there are occasionally exotic threats to be faced, since the system has, or has had, a number of eccentric villains and their minions.

Before deployment, Blueshift agents are supplied with a sidearm, most commonly the Brazilian Taurus 24/7 (standard 9x19mm Parabellum) and issued their choice of a HK G3 variant and their various attachments (7.62×51mm NATO) or, license built by Andes Munitions, an American 180 submachine gun (.22 LR, pan magazines with up to 275 rounds). 

Blueshift agents are free to use their own savings to purchase additional or alternative weapons. The company provides the three types of ammunition for the standard weapons free of cost, members who wish to use weapons with different ammunition (as 7.62mm NATO is often said to produce too much recoil and be too heavy to produce good rates of fire, while .22 LR, while extremely easy to control, lacks in power against body armor unless kept on target an improbable length of time) need either pay for their own or are on good terms with their quartermaster. Blueshift never has access to obviously extranormal equipment or weapons. For field missions, Blueshift operatives are issued terrain appropriate camo/fatigues along with ballistic vests with ceramic plates.

They operate a number of armored cars for bodyguard duty and a number of Unimog variants for all-terrain personnel transportation. Unimogs carry less cargo than other utility vehicles of similar weight, but their high ground clearance and excellent axle articulation offer great mobility in rough terrain one might encounter in South America or Africa.

Blueshift's company culture is anglophone, members are referred to as officers (as in 'security officer'), squad leaders are generally referred to as Chief, and leadership higher up the chain is generally referred to as 'Dispatch' in general terms. More formal rank and position terminology is, in almost all cases, limited to company-internal correspondence.
 
Blueshift members move in squads in the field, although when guarding fixed assets in peaceful regions, may also think of their team as a shift (night shift, early shift, etc).

Some Blueshift officers are aware of animal sapience, but no multiversal theories as disseminated by Status Quo among animal populations. These rare individuals are usually on the cusp of being made an offer by Status Quo directly, or, if they take issue with animals manipulating world events, are either paid off and retired, or depending on how strongly they take issue, discredited publically or have accidents.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 05:21:07 pm by Flatstompa »
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Re: Dossier: The Crew's System and the primary danger to Guardian mission
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 09:20:11 pm »

Excerpts from the first of a series of weapon trials intended to standardize weaponry across Status Quo field units to ease supply logistics and ensure weapons capable of defeating light vehicles and/or powered armor or robotic targets are avaible to all units, useable by diminutive operators and compact enough to store/conceal them even in urban environments.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Preamble: As human agents with full clearance continue being greatly outnumbered by diminutives in all deployment zones, the supply of viable armaments is an on-going problem for the organization. Although canny quartermasters have historically managed to supply their assigned forces with additional ordinance through a variety of non-standard channels and arrangements with other, more heavily armed, Status Quo units, establishing a standardized base-line capability to counter armored Outsiders among all task forces would also aid command-level planning and deployment logistics in the face of larger crises.

Furthermore, the necessary modifications to make sufficiently powerful weaponry useable by non-human agents often adds additional considerations for re-supply and storage for forces deployed under cover in urban areas. It is well and good for a quartermaster to obtain a crate of surplus LAWs or a handful of TAC-50s, but making them useable by every member of a task force requires additional investments of time, money and storage space, some or all of which may not be immediately available. Granting mobile task forces operating without support (either in-house or PMCs) the ability to quickly and easily requisition standard designs and munitions prior to deployment must be considered a priority.

Therefore, we have opened the floor for anyone with the technical inclination to submit their proposed solution to the problems outlined above to a series of trials to determine suitable solutions.

Proposal: Prismatic Beam Projector (PBP)

+PBP device successfully cut through the equivalent of [Redacted] RHA, meeting and (under some conditions) exceeding the requirements set prior to the trial.

-Advanced [Redacted] batteries expensive to manufacture, production capacities limited.
-Production capacities for critical internal components extremely limited.
-ill suited for use on vehicles: critical internal components prone to misalignment caused by vibrations in transport.
-extreme brightness of beam reveals firing position, may blind allies without eye protection.

Rejected.

Addendum:
*This panel recommends that the engineers responsible for miniaturizing Prof. Prisma's original device be commended, but cannot recommend the PBP for mass production.

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Proposal: QF 2-Pounder Mk. X with squeezebore adaptor

+Very good penetration versus intended targets with modern APCNR shell designs
+Cheap and uncomplicated to manufacture after initial start-up, theoritcally could be produced anywhere with an even moderately skilled labor force.
+Can be crewed by animal loaders with minimum of mechanical assistance, offering attractive combination of low shell weight and good penetration.

-Low volume of fire. 20 rounds per minute is below what can be expected of experienced human loader.
-First shot accuracy limited versus humanoid targets
-Squeezebore design is unsuited to alternate ammo types, limiting flexibility
-Potentially prone to overpenetration against large organic targets or unarmored vehicles

Tentatively recommended for further trials.

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Proposal: 40mm HESH/HEP ammunition for grenade launchers.

+Effective against unarmored and lightly armored vehicles alike
+Devastating against organic targets with direct hits
+Reduced risk of collateral damage compared to HE
+Strong shockwave and spalling effect likely to be very effective versus mechanical moving parts.
+Potential to capture relatively intact examples of powered armor if user is killed by shockwave
+Many task forces already field 40mm grenade launchers in various forms, shells can be designed to work with many pre-existing launchers.

-ineffective against spaced armor.
-Limited effective range/limited accuracy for long range – high arc fire.
-Very limited fragmentation
-Less effective vs concrete fortifications compared to larger HESH shells
-Still causes much greater structural damage compared to both HE and HEAT shells of comparable size in urban environments

Manufacture and distribution of HESH grenades recommended as stopgap solution.

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Proposal: Innovative firing mechanism for caseless ammunition. Testbed: 20mm rotary cannon.

+Weapon performs as would be expected of unmodified unit

-Complicated to manufacture
-Adds additional steps to reloading procedure
-Increased vulnerability of supply logistics due to multi-part ammunition
-Primary propellant component is toxic, a carcinogen and can explode in the presence of oxidisers. It can be absorbed through skin.
-Primary propellant component released into the environment can react in air to form a persistent carcinogen and groundwater pollutant.

Excerpt from live fire test transcript:

Quote
"And unlike conventional designs, the hypergolic propellant allows you to adjust the mix on the fly for greater muzzle energy! So you see, the wheels of science never stop turning!"

"But should it be on fire? And how do you turn it off??"

[Redacted]

"We wanted something we can massproduce and that's uncomplicated to keep supplied. This is neither. It addresses the wrong problems with a solution that is insane!"

"Bah! Genius is never appreciated in its own time."

Rejected.


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Proposal: M203 Chain gun in remote weapon station.

+The capabilities of the M203 are well understood and sufficient for the stated purpose.
+Well-stabilized remote weapon station (RWS)
+Uncomplicated supply logistics
+Reloading process allegedly uncomplicated for larger personell and not outright impossible to perform for smaller crews.

-RWS somewhat large, difficult to design for retractability or concealment.
-Ammunition supply bulky
-Limited ammunition capacity on smaller vehicles.

Recommended for further trials.

Addendum:
Quote
"RWS? Looks like they just took an Apache chin mount and flipped it. Also: Allegedly uncomplicated reloading? Ahaha."

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Proposal: M242 Bushmaster

+Good penetration and range
+Multiple ammo types and dual feed allows for flexibility in the field
+Proven design, should hold few unpleasant surprises for operators and maintenance personal

-Even larger than M203
-Proposal as presented does not include viable suggestion for concealed/retractable mount to allow movement in urban environments.

Rejected. Although the M242 is already in use with some mobile task forces, it is not suitable for the purpose of these trials.

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Proposal: .50cal BMGs in Quadmount

+Good variety of ammo types
+Specialized ammo allows the weapon to meet the requirements set
+Proven, reliable weapon design
+Collapsible quadmount allows weapon to be concealed on larger jeeps/SUVs or within small trucks
+Members of the panel expect presence of the system to be excellent for local morale

-Weapon maintenance hampered when mount is not fully deployed
-Other members of the panel doubt the reliability of the mounting mechanisms

Proposal approved for long term stress tests.

Addendums:
*Regardless of outcome, the proposal was useful in making the panel aware of just how much one can do with .50cal ammunition. We additionally recommend attempting to acquire specification for the EXACTO technology as soon as feasable.
*Even if the proposal ultimately fails at some stage of testing, we predict that some task forces will want to add some of these to their armory regardless. The consulting morale officer described the device as 'too damn cool' when in action.

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Additionally, the panel recommends testing weapons to mount on remote weapon stations already in use by various task forces. Being able to standardize equipment would simplify supply logistics, especially in light of the viability of the basic .50cal BMG weapon.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 09:34:40 pm by Flatstompa »
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Facts about Magic

Although unconventional scientific devices and weapons are common in the system, and more or less prototypical mad scientists seemingly abundant, Guardians should be aware that there are other native sources and types of extra-normal abilities and effects. Not everything apparently magical automatically indicates a contamination or an intrusion from outside the system!

-Magic is demonstrably real in the system.

-Magic is subject to similar reflexive disbelief by humanity as the idea of animal sapience.

-No system-native is currently known to be able to perform combat magic (fireballs, magic missiles, telekinetic attacks, etc)

-Native supernatural effects are either created through rituals (often elaborate and time consuming) or exists as passive effects (empathy, exceptional longevity)

-Tomes, scrolls, or other repositories of magical knowledge are exceedingly rare

-No ancient traditions or secret magical societies are currently known to exist, although knowledge left behind by such exists.

-As a consequence of the previous items, much of what Status Quo knows about magic has been discovered by repetitive, methodical experimentation to discern the laws governing the use of magic.*

-Nonetheless it is not currently known what factor grants some individuals passive extra-normal benefits. Ritual magic, on the other hand, appears to be learn-able.

-At the same time, Status Quo is quite interested in unearthing additional magical lore from past, apparently more magical ages. Again, such finds remain very rare.

-Status Quo is aware that magic and magical creatures from other realities can be highly dangerous in combat.

-Given the impractical state of available magic, Status Quo appears to encourage its researchers to pursue means of combating or cancelling magic. In recent years, SQ agents increasingly carry bewildering collections of supposedly protective charms concealed among their equipment. Thin layers or lattices of iron and steel are worked into protective gear. Silver isn't regularly carried but can be made available in small quantities on short notice.

-Using barely understood native magic to create protection against unknown Outsider magics (which even SQ has recognized as not consistent from incident to incident) has had mixed results.

-Simultaneously, there are those that argue that magic is simply a collection of obscure natural phenomena that are poorly understood. Building on the Reichenbach school of thought, they theorize that the world is intersected by an 'Odic medium'. There are disagreements within the group whether this is an energy state or dimension. Their theories were initially created to explain the occurrence of ghosts/hauntings as consciousness imprinted onto the medium and projected into the physical world. They are said to interact non-intuitively with the laws of physics and share properties commonly associated with ghosts. They strongly reject the term magic.

*Although the pool of scholars of magic is limited, they appear to have developed their own terminologies and circulate scientific publications among one another. Early on, concepts such as the Universal Belief Quotient or the Faith:Inertia Rationic Mean were strongly influenced by intelligence gained from captive Outsiders. Both of these ideas have lost much of their support. In recent years, an essay titled "Revisiting Reichenbach - Explaining Magic through the Odic Force" has been widely read, although that particular theoretical energy hasn't become any more empirically observable than it was (rather wasn't) in the 19th century.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2015, 07:12:47 pm by Flatstompa »
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A short fragment of video (titled 'NAC has a wave motion gun!') has been leaked onto the internet in the crew's system. It depicts the SQS Charybdis (or a vessel of the same class) firing its forward facing energy weapon at another aerial warship.

Although footage quality and distance make identification difficult, Guardian software indicates partial matches with Valuan Armada vessels. The Status Quo vessel appears to have taken heavy damage, debris falling from a breach near the keel, while its deckhouse is little more than a splintered ruin.

The spinal gun discharges a great bolt of lightning from the bow of the vessel. The reaction is nothing short of catastrophic. Even on the low quality audio of the recording, a shriek echoes across the desert as reality itself appears to split open like rotten fruit. A hellish aurora wreathes the enemy vessel. Even so far away, the hull visibly warps and bends as balefire spreads out from the point of impact. Within moments, the warship breaks apart, as if snapped over the knee of an angry god, pouring out fragments of itself and members of its crew. The bow section plunges into the dessert with enormous force, but by some miracle, the stern fragment retains lift from its fans just long enough to make the subsequent impact merely very dangerous instead of catastrophic for the remaining crew.

The video description simply says 'Recorded in Turkmenistan – some Space Battleship Yamato level stuff'

The video is uploaded on multiple platforms and is widely viewed, generating thousands of comments. Sorting algorythms boil them down to the following broader statements.

-Posts of FIRST and posts decrying FIRST posts
-Worry about this terrifying new weapon
-Worry about future plans and ambitions of the North African Coalition
-Dismisals of the weapon, explanations that it's the age of the cruise missile.
-Theories as to why the engagement was conducted at such short ranges
-Dismissal of NAC military personell as incompetents only suited to bullying poorly equipped insurgents and militias
-Endless political bickering
-Accusations that the footage is fake
-Various theories as to the true nature of the Turkmenistan crisis, including the actual facts (widely dismissed)

Embedded Guardian personell are working to gather intelligence about the weapon – the discharge itself resembles the standard Tesla-derived action-science lightning gun, but the damage done is anomalous. Status Quo still does not practice any real operational security on the animal level for various reasons, which is obviously advantageous for Guardian intelligence work.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2015, 11:59:00 pm by Flatstompa »
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Person of Interest File NACL-#0012-Red Ragweed(*)

Name: Basiliska

Known Aliases: Beastmode. Entity infrequently makes use of this moniker while in human form for longer periods.

Description: Reports vary. Her human guise seems to appear vaguely caucasian, noteworthy primarily due to unusual proportions (about 6.5 feet tall, generally gaunt frame yet wide shoulders, long arms, large hands). Seen with blue hair in 90% of all reported sightings. Mismatched eyes, blue/red.. Facial features dominated by wide mouth, thin lips, and visible veins on cheeks. Other refugees claim that this human guise was created by/obtained from an entity called The Facemaker, although the process of its creation, and the way Basiliska is able to switch between her human form and her supposedly real form are currently beyond our scientific understanding.
Her combat form is about 8 feet tall, muscular and covered in red hide under blue thorns and armor. It is equipped with wings and a bladed, though merely knee-length tail. In this form, her general proportions and facial features are in fact more 'normal'. Her eyes are both blue.

Date of Birth (If known): No documented information available.

Reason For Interest: Refugee from allegedly destroyed parallel reality, neither settled peacefully nor working for Status Quo.

Threat to Agenda: Low

Threat to Personell: Moderate to severe

Rules of Engagement: Sightings and other noted activity to be reported via Protocol 12. If you are not cleared for Protocol 12, report any information to your direct superior and take no further action. Do not confront in a hostile manner unless under direct orders from the Administration.

If you cannot avoid direct interaction with Basiliska, attempt to follow these guidelines:

If human, maintain eye contact. If diminutive, stand your ground. Especially if you are clearly a trained combatant, Basiliska will attempt to provoke a confrontation if you appear meek.
Be firm, but not overly aggressive. Especially if you are clearly a non-combatant, Basiliska will react to aggression with condescension and low-level physical bullying.

Be frank and direct.  Acknowledge that you are no match for the entity in a fight, and that you would prefer to avoid confrontation. If human, feel free to mention that you would prefer to remain combat-ready so as to not let down your comrades in case of a sudden incursion event. If diminutive, feel free to point out that from your perspective, the difference in power between Basiliska and an armed human enemy is largely academic in most cases. The entity expects to be feared, but reacts positively to people who are obviously able to put their fear aside.

If for any reason your fear response is diminished or absent (temporarily or permanently), it is recommend that you point this out calmly but firmly, adding that you do understand and appreciate the difference in power between you and the entity. Basiliska may still attempt to startle you to test your claim, but should accept the explanation. See Interview [REDACTED].

If you have successfully made it past these preliminaries, the entity is generally open to conversation. Known save topics include the entity's past exploits, and specifics of your own training and combat conditioning (if applicable). Standard operational security rules apply.

Use your own judgement to decide when it would be acceptable to excuse yourself without seeming rude. Remember and report the conversation to the best of your abilities.

Known Abilities: In her combat form, the entity is capable of flight. In either form, she is capable of leaping considerable heights (observed jumping onto the roof of a single story building) and can achieve a land speed of at least 60mph.

The primary danger posed by the entity stems from her ability to generate and manipulate flame and electricity in anomalous ways. Apart from her physical resilience (already superhuman), Basiliska generates overlapping fields of electricity that minimize harm. She is partially protected from extremes of temperature, physical trauma, and apparently impervious to directed energy weapons – especially the Tesla-derived 'Lightning Gun' designs and mundane conducted electrical weapons have to date caused no visible damage. Following our observations of Incident #234 Spiral-Corona, it is theorized that Basiliska has no particular protection against chemical burns caused by powerful corrosive substances. However, the entity appears able to heal some wounds almost instantaneously, accompanied by visible surges of electricity. She is capable of (non-lethally) shocking and inducing short term fatigue in nearby targets via unknown means. Both of these abilities only function within  6-10 feet or less.
On the other hand, Basiliska's ability to generate flame is even more poorly understood, less subtle, and much more dangerous. Usually, when confronted by mundane opposition, Basiliska will prefer to brawl or use conventional weapons in her human form, supplemented by her electrical defenses. She has been known to use fire to aid in intimidation – breathing gouts of flame, encasing her hands in fire, and even shaping apparent fiery blades to aid her showmanship.

According to testimony from other entities hailing from her world, Basiliska's flames can burn hot enough to melt through even the heaviest powered armor systems or vehicle plating given sufficient exposure.
All flame originates directly from Basiliska. She cannot throw fireballs, and she does not spit accelerant when she breathes fire. She cannot ignite materials at a distance greater than the gout of flame she is capable of breathing out. As such, Basiliska possesses no innate ranged attacks that we know of.

Unfortunately, even our unconventional thinkers struggle to formulate theories to explain the entity's powers and abilities within the laws of physics as we understand them.

Biography: The origin and nature of Basiliska are in dispute. Other refugees from her home realm generally believe her to be either a mutation of some mundane creature (human or animal) or created (accidentally or deliberately) through scientific procedures. However, she has displayed powers and abilities that defy our current scientific understanding. SQ experts assume that Basiliska interacts with the laws of physics as we know them in highly unintuitive ways.

As far as our sources could tell us, Basiliska was initially considered a villain, a super-powered thug who lived to fight, drink and steal. She was not known to have any ambition aside from creating spectacle – to be well known and feared. She was not known to deliberately endanger innocents, but the threat of it served as a frequent and reliable means to cause fights with more heroic super-powered beings. She was also prone to go on destructive sprees, causing considerable property damage.

Although eventually Basiliska assisted in repelling various threats to her original world, she never stopped being prone to violence and destruction and never cared for, or attempted to earn the trust of heroes.  When that world began to end (a process beyond our understanding) Basiliska decided to align herself with the last remaining heroes to wrest control of a means to escape that reality from a prominent villain who was in the process of developing it. According to her, succeeding with the heroes would make her the most powerful of the escapees.

The transition to our reality apparently weakened her powers, nearly killing her (other refugees reported discomfort and some changes in their abilities, but to a much lesser degree). However, the entity regained her full power in the days following the transition.

In our reality, Basiliska engages in some of the same behaviors. Every so often she will go on a rampage, targeting public property for destruction, or engange in a spree of pettier crimes, seemingly to flaunt her power and resilience in front of the public and law enforcement. As this behavior does not exceed the limits of petty criminality, efforts to stop or contain Basiliska are judged not worth the cost at this time. Additionally, the entity has assisted in combating EDO threats on multiple occasions. Her chosen lifestyle likely depends on modern society to provide an audience for her super-powered theatrics.
The entity occasionally refers to herself as giant monster for unclear reasons. Frequently makes grandiose claims about being the most powerful being on the planet, describing the entire world as 'her turf'. We suspect that such claims are partially meant to provoke, although Basiliska generally reacts with greater hostility to EDOs than to native enforcement agencies attempting to fight her, and will attempt to protect civilians from harm by EDO threats if the opportunity arises.

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*NACL, short for non-autochtonous life form. This codeword is used by SQ when a lifeform is determined to be non-native to their current space-time, but its precise nature is not known.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 11:03:26 pm by Flatstompa »
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This profile, assembled in the wake of the Turkmenistan mission, serves as an instructive example for the way Status Quo will attempt to get the most possible use out of their fully informed human agents. Although today, fully loyal humans are less rare, Status Quo administrators still appear to have a strong preference for introducing such humans to non-combat roles to shield them from harm. Some, of course, remain in the mobile task forces permanently due to preference or aptitude.

Name: Unknown. The real names of human SQ agents are beyond the clearance of embedded Guardians.

Alias: Agent Malloy

Position: Internal Affairs, Third Bureau

Description: Malloy appears to be about 5'5" and slight in build. Whenever observed on duty, she has worn business formal attire, unless environmental extremes prevent it. In any kind of corporate/office environment, she blends in trivially. A small woman with a briefcase, colorless and completely devoid of personality or interest. In other environments, she might stand out to varying degrees. Malloy almost always carries a handgun or small sub-machine gun in her briefcase.

Known abilities:
Malloy is biologically human, but seems to have undergone several experimental augmentations at some point during her Status Quo employment. Her response times to sensory inputs have been artificially enhanced and are now above average within the human range. This appears to have been a successful experiment to correct a former deficiency. Likewise, our agents have found references in patient files that Malloy suffered from poor wound healing and easily damaged skin, while more recent medical records indicate unusually brief periods of hospitalization . Her current appearance also has not been reported to carry the indicators of lesions and increased scarring normally associated with poor healing. Although it is possible that Malloy, no longer being a field agent, now is exposed to fewer injuries and has undergone mundane cosmetic treatments, given the context, we should also not discount the possibility of an augmented healing factor. The R&D department has conclusive proof that healing factor augmentation is possible within Status Quo's system, although specifics are subject to patient confidentiality.

Malloy is rated as unreceptive to mental compulsion and psychically induced images, which suggests either an innate neural irregularity or yet another experimental procedure undergone during her employment, as the mental fortitude scale normally in use by Status Quo assumes that the rated agent is still able to perceive the manipulation attempts.

A psychological assessment dated shortly after Malloy's initial recruitment indicates that she lacks the normal fear response, but claimed to remember fearful childhood experiences. A later addendum to the file states that while Malloy remembers fear and understands what can induce it in others, she also appears unable to recognize it in facial expressions, consistently misidentifying it in testing.

Biography: By sifting through old mission reports and archived administrative correspondence, embedded Guardians have reconstructed the following tentative timeline of Malloy's SQ employment:

2000:
Malloy first comes to the attention of Status Quo agents during a local incursion event in Tijuana.  Although specifics are classified, her apparent disregard for her own safety (or that of others) was noted when she assaulted an active threat entity with cooking oil taken from a commercial deep frier, in the process scalding a Status Quo agent and a civilian in close proximity. This did not disable the entity, but the Status Quo agent was able to maintain focus and use the distraction to finish dispatching it.

Although specifics are classified, Status Quo intelligence, on request from the task force, discovers that Malloy is wanted in several regions of the US for numerous counts of theft, extortion, reckless endangerment and assault. This information in hand, Status Quo recruiters approach Malloy. Motivated by curiosity and due to her reduced ability to anticipate and avoid danger, Malloy immediately accepts, undergoes orientation and is attached to the task force she initially encountered to replace combat losses (Today, new task force members without previous experience in military or law enforcement usually undergo basic training before joining their new unit).

2000-2005
Malloy's comrades quickly accept her as one of their own, overlooking personality deficits and sub-average response times in complex crisis situations due to her fearlessness and absolute reliability. First mention of her poor wound healing and increased scarring are found in this period. However, a trend of disciplinary problems soon emerges. Malloy repeatedly hospitalizes members of other task forces (or is herself hospitalized) over minor cases of normally friendly task-force to task-force rivalry. Evaluations during this time posit that due to Malloy's lack of imagination and analytical thinking, she fails to substitute intellectual concern for the consequences of her actions for her lack of emotional concern, especially when intoxicated or agitated. Conversely, in real combat, Malloy's emotional attachment to her comrades and intellectual concerns about the (sufficiently obvious) consequences of failure allow her to function more or less normally as part of the unit.

2005-2006
Malloy's initial five year contract ends. Most of her surviving comrades have moved on – returning to civilian lives, or undergoing vocational training/higher education paid for by the Administration. Routine assessments indicate that by this time, Malloy has become utterly loyal to the organization. Although exposed to frequent danger, she considers her current employment a vast improvement over her previous life, presumably because frequent traumatic events fail to leave an emotional imprint on her. She also expresses the belief that her habitual recklessness would likely have caused her death if not for the more structured routine of an SQ task force.

Although information is scarce, it is likely during this period that Malloy volunteered for a number of medical experiments. Potentially related to this, we believe that during this time, SQ medical personnel began to first theorize that she may be one of the rare sufferers of Urbach-Wiethe disease, a genetic disorder capable of causing both dermatological and neurological symptoms. Although incurable, many of its symptoms are separately treatable.  After this time period, no more references to dermatological irregularities such as impaired wound healing are found.

2006-2007:

Malloy, uninterested in higher education or vocational training, attempts and fails a number of field leadership courses due to her inability to recognize fear in others and lack of imagination. Mock exercises reveal a trend of focusing on the first, most direct solution to a problem and failing to consider alternate, less risky approaches. Although emotionally distressed, Malloy is ready to be re-assigned to a task force as regular field agent.

Perhaps due to her exceptionally stable loyalty index, she is approached by the then-fledgling Internal Affairs department, who appear to consider a lack of fear more useful when dealing with the increasingly opaque Status Quo bureaucracy than it could ever be in combat.

Their approach is simple and tailored to appeal to Malloy: Status Quo's bureaucracy was becoming less and less efficient, because most of the administrative personnel didn't really believe in the cause. And the problems were trickling down to the task forces – lack of supplies, lack preliminary intelligence. Substandard equipment so someone could skim some money off the top. The usual petty sloppiness and white collar corruption.

Someone was needed to make people live up to the ideals of the cause, whether they wanted to or not, someone who believed and who made others believe with them. Malloy could be someone like that, but it would take a long time to train her to be any good at it.

Malloy jumps at the chance.

2007-2011

She spends the next years traveling around the world, from minor task to minor task, all in order to gain a more complete understanding of the way Status Quo operates...and perhaps as an observer for Internal Affairs.

More importantly however, she spends endless hours improving herself in order to be equal to the task. Critical and analytical thinking. Long-term planning. Unconcern for personal consequences would be useful when someone in the organization thought they could push around Internal Affairs, but Malloy forced herself  to get into the habit of analyzing potential ramification of any call she was going to make. Self-control was of critical importance to avoid being thoughtlessly impulsive in her duty.

And finally, she spent hours in conversation with various counselors and other mental health professionals to gain a more complete understanding of the needs of the various field agents. She learned to study other people with unusually concentrated intelligence to discern their concerns, needs and anxieties, because the only fears she could remember were petty childhood frights, and she had to have an understanding, at least an intellectual understanding, of what field work could do to a regular person over time if she was going to shield them from uncaring, incompetent, corrupt or overly zealous people with authority over them.

It is likely during these years that Malloy acquires the preference for her distinct (or indistinct) business formal attire.

2011-Today
Malloy is officially a member of the newly created Third Bureau. Cooperating with the morale officers (meant to gauge morale and attempt to keep it steady in the short term), it is the Third Bureau's task to ensure field agents are kept in peak fighting shape, physically and mentally. To this end, her specific field of authority are the people working in the regional Overwatch installations, the supply officers, medical personnel, and the direct commanders of the task forces. Although Status Quo is now too large to completely stamp out lesser indiscretions and incompetencies, the fighting men and women are to be shielded from their effects, especially on morale, as much as possible.

She gains a measure of infamy for personally executing a task force sub-commander and several human members of the region's medical corps, all with relatively stable loyalty indexes, for treating field agents with untested combat stimulants without their knowledge. Although the drug is approved for use (on a voluntary basis) mere months after the fact, Malloy states during the later inquiry that, given the way most diminutive agents view animal testing, nothing less awful would have served to punish the breach of trust and prevent long term consequences for morale and recruitment. Her superiors in Internal Affairs back her fully, and although not unanimous, the Staff Council votes to refrain from anything but a sternly worded reprimand. This sends a clear signal that the Third Bureau of Internal Affairs does not agree that the ends necessarily justify the means.

Presumably, at some point during this time frame, Malloy agreed to be bound by an extra-normal oath of loyalty. Although embedded Guardians have not yet collected a great deal of intelligence about this procedure, a number of (although vague) references lead R&D consultants to speculate that SQ's scholars of thaumatology have succeeded in formulating a geas that binds agents not to the organization directly, but to a written contract to be signed during the procedure. In theory, this would serve to limit the duration of the primary effect without it having to be actively dispelled, and protect the signee from abuses of power (so long as the contract outlines their duties clearly enough). In this case it should be assumed that any such contract would contain an NDA section remaining in effect either in perpetuity or at least for a number of years after a signee leaves the employ of Status Quo.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 02:20:00 am by Flatstompa »
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Flatstompa

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Interview Ragweed#3

Informal interview conducted at supply station [REDACTED], Turkmenistan.

Interviewed: NACL-#0012-Red-Ragweed a.k.a Basiliska, at the time in human form as part of a group of freelancers aiding containment efforts under the moniker Beastmode.

Interviewer: Investigator Malloy, Internal Affairs, Third Bureau

Foreword: Malloy had volunteered for operation Glass Pyre, due to her own previous combat experience and [REDACTED] augmentations. The evening prior, she contacted NACL-#0012 (by this point SQ intelligence had been aware of her presence in the containment zone for some time) on her own initiative to request assistance. Unusual in this instance is the degree to which the entity allows agent Malloy to monopolize the conversation. The agent recorded the conversation and later submitted it to her superiors.

<Begin Log>

Malloy: You're...Beastmode? I would like to talk to you for a few minutes. Privately.

Basiliska: And who're you, lady? And who wears a suit in the desert?

Malloy: I'm Malloy. I'm with the people who know who you are. From Picher.

B: Oh, this ought to be good. Sure, let's go for a walk.

At this point both walk a distance away from the depot before continuing. Basiliska is standing close enough to Malloy to intrude into her personal space. Malloy maintains eye contact despite being more than a foot shorter.


B: Most folk that know who I am don't just walk up to me like that, y'know. Taking a bit of a risk, aren't ya? Or maybe you wanna have a go at me? You don't look like much.

M: I'm aware of the potential danger. I don't experience fear the way you expect because of neural  irregularities. Although I assure you, my colleagues would also have the self control to hold their ground. But let's move on, unless you want me to bore you with neurological terminology?

B: Hah, let's skip that for now. I'll listen. Lay it on me, Fearless.

M: I've come to request your help with a mission. Allow me to explain. Shortly after the appearance of the zone, regional authorities sent available forces to investigate an abandoned base thought to be connected to the appearance of the zone in some way. That mission was a failure. Before even entering the com--

At this point, judging by sound, Basiliska attempts to startle Malloy with a display of pyrotechnics, without apparent success.


B: Huh, barely even twitched! You weren't kidding. They carve ya out of ice?

M: As I was saying. The group was attacked before entering the base. Psionic attacks of some kind.. Some died, many were incapacitated. The unimpeded soldiers had their hands full conducting a withdrawal with the survivors.

B: So you want me to go in there and clear it out, or what? Lady, I came here to fight real heavyweights, not root around in a basement.

M: You misunderstand. The mission is only to retrieve the diminutive scouting team that was sent ahead of the primary force. They were presumed KIA, but we learned of their survival. They must be extracted. But our force is small, limited to agents with a sufficiently high mental fortitude rating, and those with specific defenses against mental influences.

B: Hah, well, I'm a hard target for mind powers. Maybe not the hardest you coulda gotten if you had the pick of my old home, but good enough for this sorry world. But! The important question is, if I go in there with you and save these rodents, what's in it for me, huh?

M: I don't know what you want. Money could be pooled to compensate you. I won't offer you future favors from the Administration, I do not speak for them in this instance, and I don't want to involve the regional managers.

There is a pause.

I, and others, would be in your debt.

Basiliska laughs.

B: What, trying to appeal to my better nature? You sure you can afford being in my debt? I usually collect what I'm owed, Malloy. One way or the other.  On the other hand...this is the kind of nonsense I said I'd help fight, isn't it? Hmpf. Might be I'm coming around to the idea. Tell me why this is so important.

M: After the initial failed mission, the task force in question has seen combat again and again. Attrition was severe, morale is poor. It will be many months until they are ready for full deployment again. We are investigating what caused this to continue even after fresh units began to arrive.  They accept danger. They know they are replaceable. But they're soldiers, not zealots. In a crisis, their instinct is to fight for their comrades first, not for the cause.  And to be good soldiers they have to live it, to believe their work has worth and purpose. More importantly, their immediate leaders in the task force need to be able to trust that their men will not be wasted.

B: Are you sure you're not some kind of robot? Anyway, you're hoping by bringing these critters back, or what's left of em, you can show that there's still folk upstairs that won't screw 'em over?

M: I see you understand. But...these people in particular have served so well, we would owe it to them regardless. I suppose you haven't had much contact with our smaller agents?

B: Hah, no, but I totally understand that lot. It's a great thrill to take the fight to some huge beast without holding back. And everything's a huge beast to a rat, eh?

M:
Well, those who operate heavy weapons might think that way...but you're wrong.

B: Oh yeah?

M: These people are nothing like you. After a few incursion-related missions, Recon people are scared all the time. They shy at shadows. The heroes are just  recruitment fabrications. All they want to is to survive the next mission. Their lives exist only within the mission’s parameters. They look no farther ahead than coming home. And they won’t talk about that, for fear of jinxing it. To keep doing the work anyway...is the greater achievement.

B: Come on, the robot thing was a joke. No need to switch to melodrama on my account. Fine! You sold me on it. So what're we expecting down there?

M: We don't know much. For sure there are mutated beasts, and some psychic actor able to conjure decoys or directly assault minds. I'm asking your help primarily as insurance. To improve our odds in case of emergency, as it were.

At this point, Basiliska begins activating her electric defenses, likely as a piece of showmanship.

B: Well, you got yourself one hell of a trump card, lady. Anything I can't shock and awe into leaving us alone is gonna vanish like chaff in a furnace. Ain't nothing that can stand up to a monster like me!

M: Yes. And in the unlikely event that you are killed in action along with the rest of us, I imagine our people will bomb the site until it collapses in on itself...and then keep dropping bombs on the crater until they can see hell.

Basiliska laughs, louder than before


B: I love it. That's probably the best response in case there's anything down there that can punch my clock, eh? Anything else you wanna tell me here? The rest of your team gonna be able to perform when they have to measure up to a beast like me?

M: Hm. They're members of another mobile task force, volunteering to repay a debt. They're an independent lot. MTFs are tightly knit and enjoy considerable autonomy. Their soldiers have complete faith in their leaders...and little to none in regional management. They'd undertake a strike on the gates of heaven, confident that their leaders will find a way to pull it off...and complaining all the way about the fools in Command who cooked up the mission. Judging by my own time as an MTF agent...should be fine.

B: Words words words. I woulda taken that last line alone too, you know. Do you answer every question with a lecture? I been having a pretty patient day and you're still starting to grate on me!

M: It is my job to see to the welfare of the field agents, and to the morale of their leaders. It is important to me that you understand, and don't just tag along to break things.

B: That is a pretty big part of why I'm coming along though, isn't it?

M: Granted. Think of it as dotting my is and crossing my ts. I am taking a potentially career-ending risk in recruiting you, after all. But I'll stop bothering you now. Please be ready at the main depot for this sector by noon tomorrow.

B: Mmm. I'm gonna do another patrol to look for some entertainment after all this jabbering.

<End Log>

Quote

....regarding requests to reprimand Agent Malloy for her loose interpretation of the SQ Security Act,  the Staff Council would like to remind you all that as an agent of the Third Bureau, it is Malloy's profession to ensure, in cooperation with the morale officers, that our field personal are nurtured and husbanded like the vital resource they are, so they may be spent to maximum effect when the time comes.

Field personnel who frequently risk death in exotic and horrible fashions develop into eccentric lots. They understand other eccentrics who are good at their job. Malloy qualifies on that score.

Additionally, Agent Malloy is chained to her duty by oath and contract and is therefore by definition unable to take actions that can reasonably be expected to run counter to her contractual duty and the cause in the long term.

Errors of judgement are possible, but we'll save reprimands for when there is concrete evidence of such. Request dismissed.

-Staff Council, Central Asian Division
« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 02:34:25 am by Flatstompa »
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