Feb 28, 2021 2:21 AM
Shadowrunners get yoinked into an OTC world
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The run went well. Very well, actually, zero shots fired. Zanne has the payload and Leveler has some extra paydata secreted on his deck. And they're back in the neighborhood, so Blauprinz - Artur - is finally letting his guard down. The sympathetic monitor spell he keeps up when working suggests his crew are, too.

Then his vision swims and there's a feeling of discontinuity. He stumbles. Rolls. He's halfway through the roll when he yells "Three!". He's upright and his sword half-drawn when he realizes that, one, no one responded to that, and, two, his crew are not nearby or moving. Shortly followed by three: he is definitely not in his neighborhood anymore.

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Hannah is having a bad day. She was supposed to be installing a new demiplane wing to a palace in Cthonia and now the demiplane's gone unstable, snagged on some passing plane. She stabilizes what she can, but this pocket here is beyond saving. So much for the conservatory. She'll have to dump it into a more stable location - good thing there's a lot of grounds here. 

Suddenly, amid the Cthonian black rose-gardens, there is a greenhouse containing plants and bronze statues and benches and a stolen chunk of another world. 

Hannah goes in to investigate and make sure she didn't bring through anything dangerous by accident.

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That probably depends on her definition of 'dangerous'. This human is wearing a modern-looking vaguely-robe made of 50% polyester, which is slightly magical. Also magical are the scale-covered dreamcatcher hanging off his right shoulder (somewhat magic), himself (moderately magic), and the hand-and-half sword he is in the process of drawing (extremely magic). Its magic doesn't seem to be doing anything at the moment, and (if she can see with any detail) the magic is not all that accessible. But there is a lot of it. If a leyline is a river, this sword is the Grand Canyon.

The arguably-wielder of the sword is, to all appearances, unaware of any of this. He is looking confused at the greenhouse, and occasionally glancing off into empty space to where, from his perspective, his crew was standing a moment ago.

He stopped drawing the sword, but he's not actively sheathing it either.

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Elsewhere, a dark-skinned ork and Swedish elf are looking concernedly at the space where their Face was standing a moment ago. They are no longer letting their guard down.

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She stops as soon as she can see him, and carefully raises her hands above her head. OTC translation cloak should apply here -

"Hello! Can you understand me?"

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"Let's go with 'yes'. Where the hell am I? Also why? Also also the other four- no, those can wait. And/or where and why the hell are my crew, but so far I'm guessing that one is 'same place as a minute ago' and I'm the one that moved."

At some point in there he notices that 'sword half-drawn' is (a) a bad way to ask questions and (b) probably not actually a credible threat, and starts putting it back.

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"Arcbright, OTC trade world, middle of what was meant to be a subspace greenhouse but instead snagged on part of your world, accidentally transporting you here when I dumped the contents in order to prevent the whole thing from becoming an outright interplanar tear. Sorry about that."

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"That... no offense, but I think I'm more confused now. Start with explaining 'OTC trade world'?"

He does not like the sound of it at all.

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"OTC, Oifilei Trade Consortium - they more or less run the place around here, they're very hands-off. This is a Trade world, meaning we've dealt with the easy problems - aging, hunger, hostile wildlife, stuff like that. The OTC is multiversal."

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"So, one-megacorp rule across many worlds? Saves time, I guess. There's a couple places on Earth that could say they've abolished those problems but there was collateral damage along the way. Slavery, expulsion of everyone with a bank balance less than fifty million nuyen..." ...assassinating his parents... "In one particularly delightful case, blood sacrifice of everyone poor to power immortality for the rich. But everyone else agrees they're vile, Aztechnology is a special breed of fucked up."

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"OTC's atypical for a megacorp. Against slavery, puts most of its time into building new universes. We invaded a hell a few decades back and resettled all the slaves and started selling shit to the devils who lived. New Trade World, Cthonia."

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"Huh. Honestly, even trying to present itself that way probably qualifies it as my favorite corp. Not that I think you're lying to me. I just have enough experience of the messy facts behind the shiny PR that I have doubts.

Like, 'my favorite' is a bar you could hit just by not regularly arranging deniable hits on inconvenient bystanders. And even the 'good guys' like Dunkelzahn, he mostly operates as a charity rather than a for-profit corp and his public reputation is spotless, contract out some very ugly jobs behind the scenes. If half that shit somehow managed to become public knowledge, Wyrm Talk would lose 90% of its viewers in a week - but it never, ever will and wouldn't be believed if it did."

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"I can't guarantee to you that there's not some perfect PR scheme, but I've personally been the thin end of wedge in my time - worldscout - and I would say they're decent. Mind you there's the mercenary division but they're not occupied in the day-to-day."

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"I'd be a damn hypocrite to object to mercenaries. Hell, it's hypocritical to object to the deniable hitmen, since, well, I am one. I prefer to bring my crew on runs more like 'larceny' or 'sabotage' than 'murder', but sometimes you gotta eat and there's nothing else available. There's not much money in revenge.

But speaking of my crew, how hard, and how fast, will it be to get me back to them, or vice versa? I have a trace spell active, so I know they're worried. Also I think that spell's straining to stay connected, it's draining me a lot more than usual."

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"If you have a link still I can follow that to bridge!"  She pulls a pair of enspelled glasses from nowhere and puts them on, then pulls out a pyramidal metal machine. "OTC worldbeacon, we'll pass this to your crew and get them to set it up somewhere secure and then I won't have to rely on your tracking spell anymore, we'll be able to bridge either way easily."

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"Oh, good, Knällchen particularly will worry. Here, send this as well, they'll know it's mine and I'm cooperating."

He picks the dreamcatcher off his shoulder and pushes a little burst of magic into it. If Hannah can tell, it's fixing a little burst of his emotions in: "cautious optimism" and wariness. Which should make them not worry, but also not open the connection carelessly. He doesn't actually trust this mega-mega-corp, no matter what she says.

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She reaches, following the connection back, and bridges the two worlds for just as long as she needs to send through the beacon with a prerecorded message in it and Atrur's dreamcatcher. It's beautiful work, shame about the accident that led to it.

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He attends to the spell, which conveys surprise, then curiosity, then the mix of emotions he attached, then relief mixed with caution. Good. He drops it, to save energy.

"They got it, but I think they're going to take their time about using it. 'Caution is a habit', as they say. A big corollary to rule one, sometimes I think I should add it to my version of the list."

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Zanne is: surprised, then curious, then concerned, wary, and cautiously optimistic, then relieved. Artur's dreamcatcher, with Artur's emotions bundled in: very hard to fake. He didn't come with it, which probably means he thinks he'd be more useful to them wherever he is than home.

She and Leveler bundle the weird pyramid into a bag and contact their usual ritual magician to come take a look.

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It's a mass of densely-packed circuitry and some kind of booster. Clearly a signaling device, not magical but could be used as a sophisticated focus by some kind of space-warping spell. 

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When Zanne notices this, she has Leveler look more closely. He agrees that it's complex technology, and assumes she's right that it's not magic. This changes which contractor they bring in - rigger instead of wizard - but not the overall approach.

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As best as their rigger can tell it's designed to anchor teleportation and message-passing spells from an unknown presumably magitechnological source. It's also got something prerecorded on it in 3d holovid. 

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They will probably activate it eventually but are not in a hurry to do so.

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"So, while we're waiting on your crew, what would you like to do?"

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"Well, how does contacting a new world usually go? Should I be more like a diplomat, or a tourist? Are mercenaries typically interesting people, here? Shadowrunners almost all are, you don't kill your legal identity and hide from law enforcement forever for boring reasons even if you got the skills blandly."

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"Usually it involves establishing new shops, negotiations with the local power players, selling Ka - anti-aging magic - and healing magic and Takkarash minters - they make money from willing sacrificial pain - and so on. As for mercenaries being interesting people... You don't sign up to fight whatever nasty thing the OTC happens on in a random new universe if you aren't enthusiastic about either the job or the benefits. The benefits are pretty good, you can get low-grade immortalities through that system. Comes as hazard pay one suspects. I should introduce you to Eva, she's been an adventurer for a lot of her lives - she has several, she's a bit of a whole thing, I used to be a her. Sorry, I'm rambling."

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