"Weave a circle round him thrice,
Then the first disturbance appears on the news: the Bank of New Patagon is about to fold, and there's a run on it. Citizen Cremont's overseer is there, apparently talking to a large angry-looking mob; some of the people in the mob have guns.
The party calls Citizen Cremont and asks if he's watching the news. No, he's not. They tell him to turn to channel 2. He's rather busy - what is this about? His overseer is in trouble. Oh, that. Yes, he's working on calming things down. The party offers to assist - what can they do? They can help calm things down too. Off they go.
The Elite Shuttle, still painted in Matrix colors, sets down by the bank next to another couple of shuttles in similar colors, from which about twenty soldiers are debarking. This looks to everyone like a disaster about to happen. Kye wanders into the mob, half-heartedly shouting for his money back, and spills three vials of Relaxation around the area. The mob mellows out substantially. The soldiers have no good excuse to attack them once they start losing their interest in storming the bank; even the guys with guns, apparently the ringleaders of the mob, are losing interest and wandering away. The party, as well as Cremont's overseer, are dosed with Yellow and so avoid the relaxing effects.
"How did you manage that?"Meanwhile, the news is covering the Matrix's palace at Joyous Gard - there's a large mob milling around (peacefully, but excitedly) outside. Citizen Cremont comes out on the balcony of the palace and announces that the riot at the bank has been peacefully dispersed. He waves. (Everyone senses a Kremlin mechanic). Rumors in the crowd and on the news claim that the Matrix is dead, or maybe in hiding.
"We drugged them all."
Ruehan and Janzur head after one of the dispersing guys with guns - Ruehan reads his mind and gets that he's working for Citizen Lamarr. Janzur ingratiates himself with the guy in order to confirm that he was basically just supposed to cause a run on the bank, and then disentangles himself again before he has to go out for beers. People who have been paying attention to Well politics recognize Lamarr's name as one of the more vocal objectors to the Matrix's treatment of Citizen Archibald; he's been something of a rabble-rouser recently.
The party confers with the overseer - he isn't surprised that the instigators were working for Citizen Lamarr - Lamarr is also trying to make a play. A play for what? The only play worth making, the overseer says. The other likely player is Citizen Julius, one of the Matrix's top lieutenants.
A message is sent to the Resistance's mail drop asking the Resistance to get in contact with them; Eva sends some spies to look into whether Citizen Ambagis is after the Hippocrates, and what's up with Citizen Lamarr.
Speaking of the Resistance, the next disturbance appears on the news. A building housing a press belonging to the Resistance has been discovered - it's been publishing seditious literature and pamphlets. Troops are being sent in to destroy the presses and arrest everyone involved. The party arrives as some people are initially fleeing the building - one man declares "They're going to smash the presses over my dead body!" and heads back in.
The party heads in as well - Sharra, in her ninja suit, vanishes into the shadows by the door. There's a set of thugs with guns, pointing them at a bunch of press operators, in a brief standoff, which stops standing off once Kye shoots one of the thugs and Ruehan adds a mass hallucination of a new mob coming in the back to help the press ops.
Eva tries to tell people to put down their weapons, but battle has already been joined, so nobody is keen to surrender first. Sharra sets off the building sprinkler system, which puts something of a damper on everyone's enthusiasm for fighting. Eva changes to telling the thugs to restrain people rather than thump them; Kye and Janzur start disarming people and standing between combatants, and Ruehan's imaginary mob calms down again. A brief standoff is again reached, at which point the leader of the thugs declares: "These are illegal presses. We're going to be destroying them legally."
Eva and Mirris try to persuade the thugs that this is the wrong building - these are a Citizen's presses. They find that a little unlikely, given the obvious Resistance-type stuff they've been printing. Ruehan mind controls one of them to say "Hey, he's right, this is the wrong building. There's no Resistance here." A non-mind-controlled guy wants to know who all these guys are that are being held at gunpoint - maybe the thug is a Resistance sympathizer? Mirris distracts people into trying to get non-waterproof equipment out of the building again. Jayla gets the thugs to start being afraid of Citizen thwackback.
In the end, the thugs go away for a little while to sort out their orders; the group calls Citizen Cremont's overseer to see if he can officially own the presses. He arranges to have trucks come to take them away before the thugs come back. The news announces that it was all a big confusing misunderstanding. Nobody gets a wave.
As the political battle heats up, more events start happening. The news announces that a skycar operator in Joyous Gard has been pushed out of his skycar, and the transport workers are on strike until "justice is done." And a number of Citizens, including Citizen Claria, have mysteriously vanished. Jayla thinks it might be time to multitask.
Eva calls Citizen Antonis's overseer (remember, Claria is married to Antonis) to see if Antonis requires Max's assistance. As Max isn't there, it's probably a good thing he doesn't say "Yes, send him over immediately!" - instead the overseer says that he'll pass the message along to Citizen Antonis. (Eva thinks maybe he's vanished to support someone).
The group splits up: Jayla, Ruehan, Jim, Hippocrates, and Kye go to Joyous Gard to investigate the transport operator's death, and Eva, Mirris, Janzur, and Sharra go to track down the missing Citizens.
Allegedly it was a group of Compatriots on the skycar who pushed out the skycar operator; the crowd says that "Jari" says they did it. It's not clear where Jari is, though. One of the people who saw the guy fall takes Ruehan to where the body hit - it's been mostly cleaned up by now. The skycar in question is checked - it still has some drinks and snacks, indicating that a VIP-ish group did use it. Hippocrates checks the skycar's database, and finds out that the tab for the drinks and snacks were for the previous trip, and that there was a later trip (which made a short loop and then came down on autopilot). It's very odd that the things weren't cleaned up, though.
And if Jari is the only witness, then where is she? Jayla assigns someone to find her. In the meantime, though, they find a supervisor who can take direction from a higher-caste-than-Jari to open Jari's locker. It has a change of clothes, lunch, that sort of thing. The supervisor tries to take the lunch (it's gotten quite late in the afternoon by now), and Jayla starts to scold him. Kye insinuates that the lunch might be poisoned, which causes him to put it back quite a bit faster. Jayla glowers.
Jari is finally located in the bathroom, crying. Jayla goes in to talk to her and Ruehan lurks outside (it being a women's room). She's very upset. (Jayla confirms that's for real rather than faked. She's maybe even more upset than she looks). Jayla talks to her about what happened - she says she was serving the drinks and appetizers, the Compatriots wanted the driver to drive somewhere else, and he said he wasn't able to and was a bit hostile. They got in a fight, and then one of the Compatriots pushed him out, and the skycar landed on autopilot. She can provide descriptions of the Compatriots in question.
Jayla thinks that the part about the fight is true, but the part about the actual pushing isn't. Ruehan checks her thoughts, and she's just Not Thinking about whatever happened when the guy died. Jayla hits her with an Epiphany, and she starts crying harder. Now Ruehan can tell that what happened was that the driver was her boyfriend, and after the fight she started scolding him about how he shouldn't alienate higher-caste people, he'll never advance himself that way. Tempers rose and they ended up in their own fight, and she pushed him out in the heat of the moment.
Jayla convinces her to confess, and gets her turned over to the legitimate authorities. Citizen Cremont's overseer, who is making a brief appearance during his whirlwind tour of the mechanic, has shown up, and tries to convince the party to be associated with his Citizen. When someone asks Jayla again who she works for, she says "I work for you, but I'm working with Citizen Cremont." This is also considered somewhat confusing, but there's good news footage of Citizen Cremont's overseer (who has a Sparky Cola!) with Jim Powell.
Taking the next step, they call Citizen Cremont's overseer. He seems startled the disappearance is already in the news. "Cremont's having a secret meeting with several Citizens. Can you cover for their absense for a while?"
Leaping into action, Eva and Mirris start planting false news stories in the media about sightings of the "missing" citizens to throw reporters off the lead. Seeing that this will be insufficent, Janzur, Sharra, and Eva are disguised as various citizens and paraded around in various camera shots, while Mirris tries to blue screen them into various backgrounds. In the end, a fairly successful deception campaign is created, especially since it need only hold up for a few hours, and suddenly the missing Citizens are being spotted all around town.
Citizen Cremont's overseer is so pleased with the results that he invites Eva, Mirris, Janzur, and Sharra to the secret meeting with the citizens. On their arrival they realize that perhaps he has other ideas. They enter the room just as one of the lesser known Citizens is making a small speech. "For the third time, Cremont, what proof do we have other than your word that you actually do have Black! Where could you have gotten it?"
Seeing how things lie, the crew again leaps into action. Yes, we gave him the Black. We're from the Hippocrates, recently the Matrix's flagship. Suddenly, the light dawns all around the room and Citizen Cremont manages to sway the support of several key citizens.
There's a bit of a lull between this round and the next. Eva's spies report that Citizen Ambagis doesn't seem to be after the Hippocrates at present, and that Citizen Lamarr has been more of a hothead recently and is making a play for the First Citizen position (no big surprise by now). Then, a meeting with Victor is arranged. Does he have a comment on what the party has been doing? He's pleased that they've been averting the more violent outbreaks. He doesn't know what happened to the Matrix - Mother has been quite uncommunicative on that topic. No one has seen the body, though. The Resistance's plan is to support moderate Citizens, such as Cremont, who's been being groomed by Kith, so supporting Cremont is a fine choice.
Jim shows his flyer to Victor - Victor doesn't like the use of the word "fight" though he appreciates that it's metaphorical. However, if he'd like to have the flyer indicate somewhere in particular, there will be a rally later, assuming all goes well. Jim prints bundles of fliers and hands them out seeming quite pleased that a great many do not get thrown away immediately. Perhaps the scent of change is indeed in the air.
Kye receives a lead via the local IPX office (more like a PO box), on where the Kaufman tubes might be. In Joyous Gard, they know, but he has a floor plan of a circular complex. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like any of the above-ground buildings, though it could probably be inside or under one of them. People traipse around the outer maintenance tunnels, but don't find anything that matches. The inner tunnels are all security-locked.
After this brief interlude, it's time for more news:
Simultaneously, Ruehan and Eva try and settle the crowd, which is preparing to stone the plant workers. It takes some fast talking and not a small amount of mind control, but those in charge are diffused and others seem more interested in the fire than actually stoning the "purveyors of death". Looking back though, it seems Dr. Kye has disappeared!
Ruehan takes over dealing with the guy making Molotov cocktails by "convincing" him to make Sparky Cola cocktails instead. It seems these fly just as well, but actually work to put the fire out some, rather than bursting into flames. Eva, during this, is off looking for the actual fire trucks as she has no illusions that throwing some soda at the building will fix the problem. (As it turns out, Ruehan, one critically failed mind control roll later, does suffer under this delusion.) Between Sparky Colas, Ruehan does manage to find out with some mind reading that the guy in charge, Citizen Lamarr, will be real disappointed if this doesn't look like a proper riot with property damage. Indeed, if things don't shape up he may have to switch to plan B and assassinate whoever takes over from the Matrix.
Eva finds the fire trucks on the access road being blocked by more protesters. She manages to talk most of them out of the road, but one woman is adamant. "Those monsters killed my daughter! Let the plant burn!" Realizing that she won't be able to simply talk the woman out of her emotional trauma, Eva tries to tackle the lady and drag her from the road. Unfortunately, she's about as strong as Eva, so the struggle doesn't get far. Coming to her senses, Eva realizes she has people to do this kind of physical labor for her... She talks one of the firemen into getting out of his truck and removing the obstacle. It seems that, unlike Eva, firemen are significantly stronger than distraught housewives.
The fire trucks are free to address the flames, and the final question becomes, "Just where is Dr. Kye anyways?" To everyone's surprise, he's found trapped in the flaming building, leaning out of a third story window with flames licking up behind him. The fire crew immediately attempts a rescue, but it seems clear they won't get the ladder there in time. Seeing no alternative to his flaming death, Dr. Kye leaps out the window hoping someone will catch him. The rest of the party gathers around his crumpled form at the base of the building and recovers his stuff as the fire crew hoses him down. They patch up his badly broken leg and off they go...
Just what was Dr. Kye doing in that building, you ask? Well, no one knows, but when he was done, he emerged with two sets of accounting books that prove the plant manager was skimming off the top from the Matrix, and also 2250 Asters of the illicit profit.
Apparently Citizen Archibald's holdings have all been integrated into other Citizen's lands, and in the intervening time the Drudges have both been treated badly and inefficiently. That their old systems don't integrate cleanly into the new structure isn't their fault; that some things aren't as good after moving them (like tropical buildings in a colder climate) is also not being taken into consideration.
The Citizens represented are not just Cremont, Lamarr, and Julius, but they do basically fall into those three camps. While unionizing seems likely to go forward, given that Lamarr is pro-union and Cremont is willing to accept unions, striking also seems popular - Lamarr is pro-strike, and Julius's camp is trying to taunt the Drudges into striking with leading comments.
Jayla provides advice to Cremont's side and to the Drudges, and Janzur orates to the Drudges about not striking; they are eventually turned aside, and a tentative union is formed, and the various injustices will be looked into.
Jim, having talked to Ruehan by radio, warns the overseer that Lamarr's plan is to try and kill the winner - the overseer admits that that's standard procedure.
Sharra engages Ninja mode and sneaks into the building. Once inside, she manages to get the people to show her the overstressed generators and starts formulating a plan for getting things back up to snuff. Mirris spends this time infiltrating the crowd and trying to steer it towards giving Hippocrates more respect as he's playing the public doctor: "I'm here to help."
His examinations, and Mirris' internal impressions indicate the crowd is somewhat extra volatile due to significant radiation poisoning affecting their state of mind. Hippocrates starts passing out all the painkillers and depressants he has, while Mirris tries to spread hope that things will be up and running soon. By this time Sharra has figured out a plan, but will need to take an entire ward off-line while she implements it. The burn ward is shut down, and Sharra passes out all of the pain killers and depressants she has as well.
Finishing her interior repairs, she calls out to the others to get them to clear the clogged cooling exhausts so she can get the generators back on line. Outside, Hippocrates and Mirris have their hands full keeping the crows "in line". ("No, no! That won't do! Move the line over here!") finding no other engineers inside who are willing to brave the mob outside, Sharra has to leave herself and hope the people inside can turn things on without her. She heads around and clears up the clogs, and soon the facility comes back up to full power. Hooray!
Hippocrates, Mirris, and Sharra spend another couple hours treating what people they can and getting everyone settled down in the fully functional medical facility before heading back to town.
Back at the Palace in Joyous Gard, Citizen Cremont waves a third time and declares himself to have won the mechanic. He invites the party to a victory party at the Purple Photon Cafe in the evening.
At the celebration, the party is seated in the middle security area; not with the Citizens, but where they can keep their weapons. Eva thinks that the most likely plan will be some sort of a distraction before the real attack. Ruehan notices that one of Citizen Cremont's guards has active psi - he has a sort of combat precog, like Anya.
Mirris heads back out the entrance, and notes that about half of the incoming crowd for the party is armed. She reports this, and the combat starts up. The group from outside starts heading in, while (unbeknownst to the party yet) a second group in the neighboring gaming area starts wiring explosives to the door. Janzur moves to block the incoming thugs, lighting his plasma brand: "I don't think that you have invitations."
Kye heads into the main Citizen area, setting off the metal detector and the alarms. Janzur gives the guys he's trying to intimidate phases - sadly, they just use them to draw their guns and tell him to step aside. Poor them. Hippocrates, in the antechamber with some other incoming people, drops a vial of painful sensory overload; this causes several of the thugs to become useless for a little while.
Janzur swings at one of the guys so foolish as to menace him - his plasma brand has been behaving poorly since the mission to Citizen Ambagis, and it arcs over to hit the wall, severing a power cable and opening the door that the guys with explosives are working on. Mirris, who's been draped over one of the thugs, preventing him from entering at all, starts enacting the entire plot of How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, bursting into tears that her "boyfriend" has brought her here to just dump her again.
Meanwhile, back inside, Ruehan conjures a mass illusion of the door into the casino shutting again. A few of the thugs do see through it and run through, but most start back in on blowing it up. Cremont starts backing off to the back room of the complex, escorted by some of his guards - Jayla warns him that one of them is likely to attack him. Eva trails after them.
The explosion on the illusionary door goes off, injuring a lot of nearby Citizens. Jayla starts herding people behind tables, while Jim first aids downed Citizens and decides to shoot the next set of explosives before they can be placed. Eventually, the thugs out front are all pretty much dealt with, but the traitor in back does turn on Cremont with some sort of hypospray. Janzur smashes it before he can use it, but the ensuing gas cloud starts affecting people until they get dosed with Yellow. That's about it for the bad guys, though.
Having survived the official assassination attempt, the victory party is now in full swing. Citizen Cremont, now First Citizen, offers the party a boon, for their assistance both in the preliminaries and now. They ponder this. Citizenship for Victor? The Exotic Dancer? Human Rights and Dignity? Drug Counseling for All? Access to Kaufman Facilities? Reclassify downcaste violence as crimes?
While the group ponders their choices, Citizen Cremont needs a new name. Ruehan suggests "the Architect", which is generally viewed as a good positive name (with Matrix allusions, pleasing the GMs), so he takes it.
Jayla ponders "Citizenship for Victor" versus "Reclassify downcaste violence as crime" - the former is better in the long term, the latter is better in the short term. Thinking long-term, the group asks for Citizenship for Victor. Cremont, er, the Architect, is a little dubious, but the group persuades him.
"It'll be a sort of 'Keep your friends close and your enemies closer' thing." -Jim?The Architect and the Citizens start doing some discussion of the new direction to take things. The Matrix was all about getting blood from stones - if you squeeze hard enough, it really works. But squeezing stones just isn't worth the effort - crushing mice gets you more blood.
"Once he's a Citizen he might come to enjoy it." -Sharra
The last step of the Architect's ascension - he and his soldiers are off to take control of the Matrix's Black supply. Janzur asks if he'd like an Elite to come with him. Why, yes, he would.
The party proceeds to the Black clinic. There's a table, and the locked cabinet with the Black supply. Everyone looks at Jim, who is apparently the backup thief. The cabinet apparently requires two keys, but doesn't appear to have any deathtraps. Mirris and Jim manage to get the cabinet open - there are some vials labeled "Black." No one finds this very convincing.
The plan of the clinic seems to have a lack of anything in a round section that's about the size of Kye's blueprint. However, the way to get in is a little unclear. Kye checks the vials - they have two purposes. One is to look like Black, the other is to render someone unconscious.
A trap door is found in the floor, leading to a gravshaft. The party piles down first; Ruehan convinces the Architect to stay upstairs with his men and await an all-clear. At the end of a short corridor is a big Hegemonic-era sealed door, with the Skyguard Medical seal on it. Everyone looks at Janzur, who puts his palm on the door and gives his authorization. The door slides open.
Janzur steps into the ring corridor, and a pair of voices begins alternating: "Unauthorized personnel, activating alarm." "Authorized personnel, deactivating alarm". Automatic weapons begin to shoot at him, and he steps back out.
Hippocrates gives his own authorization. The two voices together say "Hippocrates, enter". Hippocrates goes into the corridor, and nothing shoots him. He asks LeaveStation Twelve to report on its status and orders. The orders are apparently (given in three voices):
Getting through the doors requires either destruction or a lot of security systems - Janzur tries chopping through them, Jayla notes that he's doing something wrong, but can't figure out what. Eva finally realizes that he can just ask the doors to open.
Eventually, the mainframes supporting Khan are destroyed and with the assistance of Mirris and Jim, the Dove/Khan battle begins to turn; on the other hand, the party is taking pretty heavy casualties. Hippocrates and Dove finally finish defeating Khan (though there is still a hidden remnant of him left, as signified by three go pieces that aren't on the board). At this point, only Janzur and Sharra are still standing - Jim, Mirris, and Eva, are unconscious, and Kye and Jayla are dying. However, with Khan's defeat, the robots stop attacking, and everyone can be stabilized; eventually even Kye is woken up.
Hippocrates continues talking.
"Xanadu, what is your status?"Dove explains that the Matrix was Khan, as was the Source, as was every other ruler of the Well, either overt or covert, for the past three hundred years. Dove has been Mother, and others, who fight against Khan's tyranny, but always the weaker. Only Commodore DunWarwick has the authorization code for Xanadu's shutdown - he is still in the Kaufman tube. Destroying the local hardware will prove ineffective as over the last several hundred years Xanadu/Dove/Khan has insinuated itself into hardware all over the Well. Hippocrates is sure there must be some other way than shutting Xanadu down, but Xanadu/Dove is certain - she has changed her name, there is no returning to her previous state. Jayla ponders shutting her down versus bringing in a crack team of hackers to try and fix her - the latter seems a lot more dangerous, with the possibility of Khan suborning the hackers and getting away.
"Xanadu? No, Dove."
"Do you know how Khan will return?"
"Khan? <long pause> Oh, I see..."
"Your name was Xanadu."
"My name is Dove now."
"How do we protect against Khan?"
"He will return, and he will take control." <pause> "I cannot self-terminate."
The secret door leading to the Kaufman facility is found. Hippocrates recognizes this as the experiment that Dr. Anderson never did - what happens if you keep someone in a Kaufman tube past when they should die of old age (but don't also freeze them)? The tube is operating at full throttle, and the man inside is still inside, but older than anyone should ever be.
Before getting Commodore DunWarwick out of the tubes, the group backs up the Xanadu/Dove/[Khan] core personality into some of the more portable computer equipment and disconnect it from everything else. (The Architect will end up letting them take the copy in exchange for having dealt with the robots). Then, Commodore DunWarwick is released from the green goo. He's unable to get out of the tube himself, and is still somewhat supported by it. He sees Janzur and Hippocrates standing before him, and a small smile plays over his withered face: "We won?" No one disillusions him.
Instead, they convince him that he needs to give the shutdown code for Xanadu - his last orders have introduced a terrible schism into her. He's not really coherent enough to understand. "Xanadu, safe?" Yes, she'll be safe, they have a backup, just give the code. He manages to whisper it: "Authorization Monsoon Terabyte Omega Cataclysm Shutdown Now" but it's nearly inaudible. Hippocrates goes to the terminal to repeat it, and the imaginary background music goes into a slow sad crescendo.
Commordore DunWarwick looks up at the Hippocrates bot somewhat blearily, but his vision clears a bit as he focuses on the little SkyGuard insignia. "I stand relieved", says Commodore DunWarwick, and dies.
"Goodbye, Hippocrates. Keep your name," Xanadu says, and shuts down.