Campaign of the Month: May 2013

The Dark Queen of the West

December 23th 2010 - Institutionalized


Persons of Interest: Robert Angelton

Early in the morning of the 23rd of December, Robert rolls his Prius into the parking lot of the Gibson Institute – earlier that week, sometime when he was in a bank in Western New York state he had received an e-mail requesting an IT specialist in the involved and processor-demanding field of both experimental xeno and regular biology. It took some time for him to get through the intervening space, but a few nights and showers later he finds himself standing outside the front door to the lab, contract in hand, having hastily printed it out and read it mere minutes before. Salary, benefits, interaction with some of the most brilliant xenobiologists on the planet – a strange position, but there have been stranger things taking place in Robert’s life.

A few minutes and fewer pleasantries, Robert is past the secretaries and into the office of Uriah Gibson. Here the pleasantries are even fewer as Uriah sits solemnly behind his massive oak desk – there decoration in his office is Spartan, and all relatively ancient, aside from a massive steel door set in the corner. He gestures for Robert to sit, the motions at the contract in his hand. “Yes, or no?” His voice is thick with an accent that is difficult to place, but is understandable. Before waiting for an answer, he presses a button on his desk. “Alison, come in and show young Robert here his office.”

Moments later, an attractive brunette with a tasteful amount of makeup, a knee length skirt and a turtleneck comes in through the door, briefly introducing herself as Alison Mason . She has bags under her eyes, barely noticeable through the makeup. She brings Robert down a few halls, past a laboratory with ‘James Spence, PhD.’ A few doors later, she opens it up to a modern office space, a bit bare, connected with what appears to be a server room. “There’s room in here for a few specialists if you need to hire them – equipment can be requisitioned as well for your work for the Gibson Institute. Feel free to make yourself at home.” She hangs around, making sure Robert finds the place well – the office is slightly set up with a coffee machine and a box addressed to Robert sitting on his office desk. When questioned, Alison knows nothing about it, but the box contains a smartphone with capabilities and specifications unlike anything Robert has ever seen before. There is no return address on the box, merely a note about ‘product testing’, how Robert was ‘luckily chosen’, ‘free data plan’, ‘anonymous usage statistics’.

“My dream job, a full budget, beautiful secretary and a mystery phone… Well fuck.” Robert thinks as he pours himself a cup of coffee, “It’s far too early to deal with mysteries, but what the hell.” Robert takes a swig of his coffee, as black as the carapace of that… he shudders and looks around the office, making a note of the servers and systems he wants to get situated in here. A rack of blade servers running Archlinux, set up with a mathematica core to analyze the data these biologists come up with… but that is just procrastinating… He putters around the office for a bit, saying Hi to everyone, and makes himself busy with coming up with requisition lists, meeting people in the office, and shoveling as much of the wonderful black ichor down his throat as he can, clearly, lunch will be the time for real work…

As 11:30 rolls around Robert picks up the phone, feels it’s weight in his hands, turns it over looking at the buttons and connectors, seeing the USB dongle, he takes it to his car and runs up his system, cutting himself off from the internet he creates a virtual machine that can be formatted at a quick click and gives it control over one of the USB ports, which he then plugs into the phone, pulling down the software and figuring out how this phone works…

{Hacking (Smartphone) – Robert: Intellect (4) & Computers (4) & Specialty (Hacking/Programming) (1) & Equipment (Computer (2). Pool of 11 – 3 (Unknown) = 8. 2 Successes: Each Attempt takes 1 Hour.}

The Prius clicks over a few times before the engine starts, allowing the computer to draw increasingly large amounts of power – it purrs quietly as the display ticks over and code begins pouring out onto the screens in the front of the car. Robert picks up some fragments, including a bit of code that seems to be updating in real time. As the code begins pouring off of the phone containing the information from what is presumably the Operating System, there seem to be massive sections that are missing from Robert’s code dump. Just as the he begins to reach for the keyboard, his phone chirrups and alerts him that his lunch hour is up.

“Well that is just fucking strange…” Robert is thinking, when the alarm goes off. “Oh shit, better wrap this up.” Robert grabs some of the snippets of code that seem to be updating, and copies them into a text document, he sets it to READ ONLY DO NOT MODIFY and shuts down the virtual machine, and then powers off his car, he looks at the phone for a moment, feeling like he almost should be wearing gloves, and then slides it into his pocket and heads back into the office.

On his way to the office he stops by Allison’s desk “Hey Allison, Uriah said something about requisitioning equipment?” he days, as conversationally as he can manage, “If we are going to optimize your data-flow and secure your research findings we are going to need some serious machines.. and probably an assistant to manage the physical boxes so that I can focus on the coding side… anyway, I guess the question is who should I talk to about all this shit,” he says, with a smile.

Alison smiles, demure but mischievous. “Yeah, we can do those sort of requisitions. Just put some paperwork together detailing what you’d like and I’ll get it filed under Doctor Spence’s account. I don’t know if you’re going to be able to process much from the results that come out of this lab. Some of the results that come from Markus’ research are a bit… odd, to say the least. If you need someone to help out, we can get someone hired on, but in the interim, if Arturo is not running experiments, please feel free to avail yourself of his services. He’s an abysmal researcher, but he’s pretty handy!” She gives a sharp whistle before calling for ‘Arty!’

Moments later, a tanned lad in a disheveled labcoat pops out from within the laboratory space, goggles propped up on his head. He steps forward, smiling with dazzling teeth and offers his hand as well as a thick Peruvian accent. “Good afternoon, ser! I am Arturo Rodriguez . You are… new to the Institute? Welcome aboard. Can I help you get used to this place?”

“Don’t worry,” Robert says to Alison. “Processing odd data is what I do,” he winks. Robert shakes the man’s hand. “Robert Angelton, Pleasure to meet you,” he says. “Yep, first day, they are bringing me in to build a system to help process and analyze the data you lab guys make. We are going to get you guys set up with a whole new data processing system, bring in some righteous crypto to secure your data and help you guys out. So to that end, if you could give me a rundown of what you guys are working on and a snippet of some of your data I can get to coding up the systems we are going to get going for you guys.”

Arturo and Alison both share a look, before Alison launches into a relatively high level discussion of the different branches of study they are investigating in the lab. Arturo winces a few times, disappearing for a moment somewhere between ‘Neo-Anthropology’ and ‘Xenobiology’, returning with a file and a flash drive in his hands. “Project Aurora. Ees a study of blood archetypes and structures, specifically relating to how they mutate, and the affects they have on their host organisms. Like… midi-chlorians? Star Wars?” He smiles weakly.

The data looks thorough, but the handwriting is almost mechanically precise – Robert notes it changes halfway through in the file. “We haven’t been able to sift through all of the data on the drive – is that something you do? Very important that we get that looked at.” Alison smiles. “Not much else for you to do on your first day, so why don’t you call it early? Plenty to do on an evening such as this. Worry about getting me those requisitions later.”

“Sure thing Alison, I’ll have them on your desk by mid-week, and once we get those machines in we can start cracking away at this data for you…” he smiles, “And I’m new in town, what do people do around here for fun?” He inquires with a smile.

Alison looks Robert up and down for a second, considering. “Well, there’s a rave going on late tonight down on the water if you’re into that thing. My boyfriend is taking me back out to his estate in Europe, otherwise I’d probably go.” She shrugs and scribbles something on a piece of paper and hands it to Robert. “Have a good weekend, Bob. Try not to get into too much trouble.”


Robert stores the flash drive in his office, ready to start looking though it tomorrow, shoots back another cup of coffee and heads back to his car, his mind focused on the mystery of the phone.

Reaching his car, he goes in and drives away from the Institute, heading for the highway. Finding a rest-area he pulls over and begins to hack. Robert pulls up the snippets of code that were sending updates in real time, he reads through the source code in an attempt to determine how it is updating and to where…

{Hacking (Smartphone) – Robert: Intellect (4) & Computers (4) & Specialty (Hacking/Programming) (1) & Equipment (Computer (2) Willpower (3). Pool of 11 – 3 3 (Unknown) = 11. 4 Successes: Each Attempt takes 1 Hour.}

As Robert sets his computer to begin analyzing the phone, he notices something almost immediately – the automatically updating code seems to come in six different pairs of two numbers, which all seem to be relatively close to each other – within a few decimal places, at most. In fact, the number pairs only seem to go out to four decimal places, and they only randomly seem to increment up and down – sometimes certain pairs go completely still.

{Hacking (Smartphone) – Robert: Intellect (4) & Computers (4) & Specialty (Hacking/Programming) (1) & Equipment (Computer (2). Pool of 11 – 3 (Unknown) = 9. 2 Successes: Each Attempt takes 1 Hour.}

Another hour’s effort sees Robert in possession of the source code for the phone lying in the glove compartment. As he sifts through, he notices another anomaly, square in the center of the code.


         .d$$$$*$$$$$$bc
      .d$P"    d$$    "*$$.
     d$"      4$"$$      "$$.
   4$P        $F ^$F       "$c
  z$%        d$   3$        ^$L
 4$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$F
 $$$F"""""""$F""""""$F"""""C$$*$
.$%"$$e    d$       3$   z$$"  $F
4$    *$$.4$"        $$d$P"    $$
4$      ^*$$.       .d$F       $$
4$       d$"$$c   z$$"3$       $F
 $L     4$"  ^*$$$P"   $$     4$" 
 3$     $F   .d$P$$e   ^$F    $P
  $$   d$  .$$"    "$$c 3$   d$
   *$.4$"z$$"        ^*$$$$ $$
    "$$$$P"             "$$$P
      *$b.             .d$P" 
        "$$$ec.....ze$$$" 
            "**$$$**"" 

His programs show that he’s pulled all of the source from the phone itself, but this sits squarely between the code for making calls and the code for sending and receiving text messages. There are no coded notes, no comments that would explain the symbol. Attempts to copy, move, delete, or change the symbol in any way simply don’t work, no matter what he tries. A quick glance at the time shows that it’s fairly late in the evening, and the sky has been dark for some time.

Robert soon finds himself leaving the rest stop, heading to a Motel 6 near the Institute he found on YELP. On the way, he calls ahead to set a reservation using the dashboard interface of the car. After picking up the keys and heading into his room, he calls a pizza in and starts to brew a fresh cup of instant motel coffee. As he waits for the coffee to brew and the pizza to arrive, he takes a shower, trying to wrap his head around the mystery of this phone, that symbol… his awakening, this all has to be connected… but how?

After his coffee is brewed and his pizza arrives, Robert has a nice hacker meal before getting back to work. This phone, this is not just a phone, there is definitely a air of magic about it. Hmm, Robert thinks, and begins to probe the phone with the magical power of his mind…

{Analyze Enchanted Item (Smartphone) – Robert: Gnosis (1) & Prime (3) & Willpower (3). Pool of 7.}

Robert relaxes, letting his senses sink into the phone, feeling the circuitry begin to pulse in sync with his heart. He seeks out the center of the code, feeling a similar sort of magic that he has experienced many times before – it seems to push back, linking itself to him, and he feels three other tendrils of a similar power emanating from the phone similar to the one he feels connecting itself to him. Additionally, there are two other connections that feel off, as well as one that feels alien to him.

{Analyze Phone – Extended (Smartphone) – Robert: Int (4) & Occult (1) & Specialty Computers + Previous Analysis (3). Pool of 8. Each roll is 10 minutes.}

Robert will begins to study the tendrils of magic emanating from the device, pushing his mind deeper into the code in an attempt to find out everything he can about this phone.

After a good thirty minutes, Robert finds an understanding flooding through him – it comes to him as he is pacing idly around the room, feeling the magic connected to him move with it’s orientation relative to the phone. That, combined with the constantly updating pair of numbers sparks an idea – a quick browse of the code and a digital map search later confirms it – the phone is harnessing the latent magical energy to update GPS coordinates. One of the pairs pinpoints his rented room, almost to the square foot where the phone is sitting dejectedly on the table. Six of the other points are located in Chicago as well, although three of them seem to be clustered closely together. That seems to be the extent of the direct connection to him, except he notes that the device has no meter to display how much charge it has left – it seems to draw latent magical energy from the area around it.

With relief, Robert finally exhales, with understanding comes a plan… of sorts… but then his weary body cries out, asking for at least a few hours of rest. he sets his alarm for 9 AM and heads to bed for well deserved rest.


December 24th, 9:27 AM.

Robert wakes up and begins brewing a pot of coffee, he follows his normal morning ritual of showering when the coffee brews, slamming a cup down his gullet before beginning to get dressed and ready for the day. Upon clothing, he drinks another cup, yawns and notes the time 9:27 AM. Perfect, enough time to begin to put his plan in motion. Robert types out a few lines of code, building an application in the phone that will grab the GPS data for all of the points and send it to a given location. (Int(4) Computers(4) Specialty(programming)1 + equipment(2) = pool of 11)

{Coding Application (Smartphone) – Robert: Int (4) & Computers (4) & Specialty (Programming) (1) & Equipment (2). Pool of 11. 6 successes}

In no time at all Robert manages to lasso the GPS data and collect pointers to call up the values at will. Just as he finishes is coffee and code, a little news alert pops up on his phone. Thumbing the icon brings up the news story of some sort of fire on the waterfront. Looking outside confirms that some smoke can still be seen hanging in the air over in that direction.

Comments

“My dream job, a full budget, beautiful secretary and a mystery phone…. Well fuck” Robert thinks as he pours himself a cup of coffee, “its far to early to deal with mysteries, but what the hell” Robert takes a swig of his coffe, as black as the carapace of that… he shudders and looks around the office, making a note of the servers and systems he wants to get situated in here, a rack of blade servers running Archlinux, set up with a mathematica core to analyze the data these biologists come up with… but that is just procrastinating… He putters around the office for a bit, saying hi to everyone, and makes himself busy with coming up with requisition lists, meeting people in the office, and shoveling as much of the wonderful black ichor down his throat as he can, clearly, lunch will be the time for real work…

As 11:30 rolls around Robert picks up the phone, feels its eight in his hands, turns it over looking at the buttons and connectors, seeing the USB dongle, he takes it to his car and runs up his system, cutting himself off from the internet he creates a virtual machine that can be formatted at a quick click and gives it control over one of the USB ports, which he then plugs into the phone, pulling down the software and figuring out how this phone works….

(4 Int + 4 Computers + 1 Specialty(Hacking/Programming) + 2 Equipment(computer) )

 

“Well that is just fucking strange…” Robert is thinking, when the alarm goes off. , “oh shit, better wrap this up” Robert grabs some of the snippets of code that seem to be updating, and copies them into a text document, he sets it to READ ONLY DO NOT MODIFY and shuts down the virtual machine, and then powers off his car, he looks at the phone for a moment, feeling like he almost should be wearing gloves,and then slides it into his pocket and heads back into the office.

On his way to the office he stops by Allison’s desk “Hey Allison, Uriah said something about requisitioning equipment?” he days, as conversationally as he can manage, “if we are going to optimize your data-flow and secure your research findings we are going to need some serious machines.. and probably an assistant to manage the physical boxes so that I can focus on the coding side… anyway, I guess the question is who should I talk to about all this shit” he says, with a smile.

 

“Don’t worry” Robert says to Allison “Processing odd data is what I do” he winks. Robert shakes the mans hand “Robert Angelton, Pleasure to meet you” he says. “yep, first day, they are brining me in to build a system to help process and analyze the data you lab guys make. We are going to get you guys set up with a whole new data processing system. bring in some righteous crypto to secure your data and help you guys out. so to that end, if you could give me a rundown of what you guys are working on and a snippet of some of your data I can get to coding up the systems we are going to get going for you guys”

 

“sure thing Allison, ill have them on your desk by mid-week, and once we get those machines in we can start cracking away at this date for you…” he smiles, “and Im new in town, what do people do around here for fun?” he enquires with a smile


Robert stores the flash drive in his office, ready to start looking though it tomorrow, shoots back another cup of coffee and heads back to his car, his mind focused on the mystery of the phone.

Reaching his car, he goes in and drives away from the institute, he heads for the highway. finding a rest-area he pulls over and begins to hack.

Robert pulls up the snippets of code that were sending updates in real time, he reads through the source code in an attempt to determine how it is updating and to where…

(Intelligence 4 + Computers 4 + Specialty (programming) 1 + Equipment 2 + willpower 3) = 14 dice (before penalties)

 

Robert leaves the rest stop, heading to a motel 6 near the institute he found on YELP he calls ahead to set a reservation, gets the keys and heads into his room. He calls a pizza in and starts to brew a fresh cup of coffee, as he waits for the coffee to brew and the pizza to arrive, he takes a shower, trying to wrap his head around the mystery of this phone, that symbol… his awakening, this all has to be connected… but how?
after his coffee is brewed and his pizza arrives, Peter has a nice hacker lunch before getting back to work. this phone, this is not just a phone, there is definitely a air of magic about it. hmm, Robert thinks, and begins to probe the phone with the magical power of his mind….

(improvised casting of “Analyze Enchanted Item(covert)” Gnosis 1 + Prime 3 + willpower 3= pool of 7)

 

Robert will begin to study the tendrils of magic deeper attempting to find out everything he can about this phone.

(Extended Action: Each roll is 10 mins, Int(4) + Occult (1) = pool of 5 Base, Possible other bonuses +1 Specialty Computers to represent having the source code for the phone and the weird bits of magical code)

 

With relief robert finally exhales, with understandign comes a plan… of sorts… but then his weary body cries out, asking for at least a few hours of rest. he sets his alarm for 9 AM and heads to bed for well deserved rest
-—————————Assuming nothing interesting happens during the night———————-

Robert wakes up and begins brewing a pot, he follos his normal morning ritual of showering when the coffee brews, slamming a cup down his gullet before beiggning to get dressed and ready for the day, upon clothing, he drinks another cup, yawns and notes the time 9:27 AM. perfect, enough time to begin to put his plan in motion. Robert types out a few lines of code, building an application in the phone that will grab the GPS data for all of the points and send it to a given location (Int(4) + Computers(4) + Specialty(programming)1 + equipment(2) = pool of 11)

Rase Cidraen Rase Cidraen

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