Episode 9

Episode 9: Scheinwelt Emulator

After having escaped Coalition pursuit from Arzin, the Disa made its way into its native Macadan space. The ship docked in a secret hangar located in the Roccan Mountains to the west of Delmont City, the capital city of Macada II.

The team was escorted to a Mendel Race facility beneath the city. It was then explained that while the people and government of Macada did not officially support Mendel Race, they would be hesitant to ever betray any information that might make them be construed as enemies of a group so closely tied to their own interests, and as such the home planet provided the best shelter in the galaxy.

Living under the city proved to be an adjustment for everyone, if only because they were all sharing relatively cramped quarters and had not been given the time to acquire the everyday comforts they had come to expect. Chesed, who was caught up with the group after the failure of their escape plan, and his personal assistant Karen Croft, were particularly out of their element. After the escape, the Coalition construed Chesed’s affiliation with Mendel Race and subsequent disappearance as a kidnapping rather than a genuine connection, and the media had began to sensationalize the story on a galaxy-wide scale. Until things calmed down, Chesed would not be able to make any sort of appearances or even risk being seen, or else he could expose the other hideaways.

Arro was perhaps more disrupted than even the Horan celebrity, however. Having spent most of his life believing that the Coalition was just and trustworthy and that Mendel Race was self-serving and prone to terrorism, he found himself feeling full of angry and frustration as his world was very much turned upside down. On multiple occasions, Kolibri attempted to comfort the soldier, trying to show him that nothing is quite as black and white as it appears, and hoping to prove to him that Mendel Race was a well-meaning and humanitarian group. This was only met with resistance and anger, however.

Arro argued her case was invalid- after all, it was Mendel Race that had attacked them outside the Arkovan atmosphere, causing the crash landing that ultimately led to the situation at hand. Kolibri was confused- she had no memory of a Mendel Race craft being ordered to attack a Coalition vessel.

Rachael was contacted, and she explained that Mendel Race had been patrolling Arkovan space on the lookout for invading vessels, much like the Coalition had been doing. When the attack took place, it was most likely born from confusion- or at least she had hoped. At any rate, she did not believe that there was ever an intentionally planned assault on them. Arro took little comfort in this, but the rest of the original task force felt a little more at ease.

Two weeks passed in the facility, and the group began to grow restless. Search parties for the Disa had diminished significantly, but reports of the kidnapping of Chesed were just as hot in the media as they had been right after the event.

Many of the team were complaining of cabin fever, Tuona especially. The Arkovan woman was used to open spaces and clean air, and was growing restless and anxious with each passing day. Rachael empathized, but insisted that the team stay hidden just a bit longer.

Tesla argued that Kolibri had been permitted to go to the surface as much as she wanted. Kolibri pointed out that with her shapeshifting talents, she rarely needed to be concerned with being recognized. Tesla began to pester Mauta to devise a spell to transform her so that she might also walk about unrecognized, when Rachael recalled something of interest.

She told them while in her boredom a few years ago, she had developed a sort of facial reconstruction patch, which could alter the way a person’s face appeared when applied. The patch allowed for skillful disguise as long as it was attached- and the alterations were so realistic that they could fool even the most advanced facial recognition software.

She offered to let the team borrow a couple of them if they insisted on going to the surface, but only as long as they kept the rest of their identities a secret. The group eagerly agreed. Tesla crafted a set of false ID chips for everyone to sport, and Chesed had Karen route some hidden funds to a group account they could all tap into if they came across the need for money while exploring Delmont City.

Within a few hours, everyone was well disguised and ready to go up. Upon reaching the surface, the Arkovans were positively floored by the tremendous expanse of the city. They were all eager to see what it had to offer. Roth- (who could not properly make use of the facial reconstruction patch, and thus had to go about cloaked to disguise his alien appearance) wanted to be shown modern weapons, so that he might be able to expand his skills further as a warrior. Tuona had Tesla agree to take her shopping. She stated she was tired of her old skins, and wanted to wear the sort of exotic colors and fabrics Tesla wore. Mauta also tagged along, always the fan of fine clothing. Karen accompanied them, as Chesed had asked her to acquire some suitable clothing for him.

Meanwhile, Janet was already familiar with Delmont, and had decided to go get a drink. She offered to take Arro, but Arro was dead set on having some time to himself. Meanwhile, Chesed agreed to help Roth scout the city for an arms dealer- a prospect that both intimidated him and excited him. ASURA-04 was requested to accompany as a bodyguard- because even in a disguise, a search for firearms and weaponry could turn ugly, and it wasn’t expected that Chesed would be able to protect Roth from discovery.

The girls and Mauta set a course for the most expensive district in Delmont, the fashionable borough of Franklin. They hopped from boutique to boutique, and an entertaining sequence occurred as the naive Tuona and the sardonic Tesla had multiple run-ins with the world of haute couture (though, not surprisingly, Mauta found it all quite fascinating).

Chesed and Roth traveled from shady, back-alley shop to shop on a search for arms. They ultimately found an arms dealer sporting an experimental military model weapon called a Pulse Bow. The bow was designed to emulate the longbows of ancient Earth, but had the firing capacity of a primitive railgun. Aerodynamically designed flechettes of alchemically reinforced tungsten were knocked into a wide bow and fired by drawing an alchemically altered diamond filament that served as a bowstring. Hydraulic pulls gave the bow considerable firepower. After being shown how to use it, Roth put the weapon to remarkable use- his natural dexterity and skill with a bow allowing him to intrinsically wield the device with great ease. They purchased it for him, and continued on their way.

Meanwhile, Arro walked into a bar called the Third Tower. He encountered Janet there, and the two shared a drink. Arro complained of a lack of exercise over the past few weeks, and said he could very much use something to work out his frustrations. The bartender overheard, and informed the two of them of a place called the Scheinwelt Emulator.

The Emulator was a grand stadium created by the intergalactically renowned Kodotama software firm. Kodotama had begun their career back on Earth in the 21st century as a develop of computer games, but had become a powerhouse of software design over the centuries. Now, they were most well known for their award-winning [{Scheinwelt Programs]], which allowed individuals to experience broadcast media in ways that had never before been possible.

It seems that Kodotama had expanded upon the concept of the Scheinwelt Program by creating an elaborate structure that used Scheinwelt technology and alterations upon Rovarri telepathic augmenters to create a vastly powerful telepathic nexus that could be influenced by a master computer system and subsequently broadcast across two separate channels- one channel was telepathic and directed to the sensory organs of individuals within the Emulator, and the second channel would send the broadcast out as a Scheinwelt Program to be viewed and experienced by distant parties.

The end result was that the Emulator could be used to host a variety of events, from sporting events to theater, that would allow those involved to safely experience the event in a realistic and convincing, but entirely safe manner. Additionally, the events would then be recorded and sent out to any number of terminals across the galaxy to be viewed by others.

In order to commemorate the opening of the Emulator, the CEO of Kodama was organizing a colosseum event in which local challenger could test their mettle against each other and a variety of characters from previous Scheinwelt Programs in a massive tournament. The winner would receive two millions credits and a one of a kind replication of a rare object from the popular Scheinwelt Program, Demon’s Ideology.

Arro was intrigued, if only because it offered him a way to work out his aggressions without being noticed. Janet’s curiosity was also piqued. She inquired more, and the barkeeper put them in contact with a woman called Edward, an assistant to the CEO of Kodotama and organizer of the event.

She informed them they would need to get a team together and receive a sponsor. A team could be up to three members, and the sponsor could be any local business. The owner of Third Tower agreed to sponsor their team, so the two of them signed up.

A short while later, after reuniting, the teams shared their experiences, and everyone was very excited to get to view the tournament. Roth also joined up with the tournament team, eager to test his new weapon. The group gathered at the Emulator, where they met face to face with Edward- who looked markedly different than she had over the vidcast communication.

She explained that the system was designed to access the center of the brain that is responsible for the sense of identity- and as such, the activities within the Emulator would be limited to what any given individual could do. In this way, they prevented individuals from using carefully constructed false identities from entering and unfairly overpowering the competition.

The teams registered, and the Third Tower team noticed a strange man entering the tournament on his own. He was built large, with an arrogant attitude, but there seemed to be something strange about him. However, they didn’t have time to worry, as the battle was about to begin.

Meanwhile, up in the viewing chamber, the rest of the group watched eagerly. They were excited to see as Arro, Janet, and Roth made their way through the first two rounds with relative ease, but Tuona was genuinely frightened by a certain competitor- a man named Kyle Jericho, who singlehandedly slaughtered every opponent that came before him. She pointed him out to Tesla, who was immediately suspicious. Little did the girls know, but this was the same man noticed by the others during registration.

At the beginning of the third round, Arro, Janet, and Roth encountered a foe so powerful they couldn’t harm it- it seems that someone had managed to crack the allegedly unbeatable security of the programming and directed powerful foes designed to not be taken down at all the teams but one- Kyle Jericho.

Tesla, as impetuous as ever, crept out of the viewer box, and Chesed and Kolibri went after her. They were encountered by security personnel, but Chesed won them over to his side using his psionic charms, and they gave them access to the central computer. Tesla was able to find evidence of hacking, and attempted to restore the program to its original functionality. However, she was met with much resistance- the hacker was aware of her presence, and in retaliation, he removed deactivated the part of the coding that prevented the participants from experiencing pain. Tesla explained that such an instance was very severe, as any individual who would be dismembered or seriously hurt in the Emulator would most likely suffer psychological trauma as a result.

However, she continued to battle the hacker and his attempts, but concern for the safety of the tournament team was high. Chesed stated he could attempt to make a telepathic connection to the team and then link them to other members of the team. Then, perhaps they could vault themselves into the Emulator to support them.

He tried it with Kolibri, but as a result, both he and Kolibri were sucked into the Emulator. The five of them struggled against the impossible foe, when suddenly, Edward appeared and deactivated the opponent. She was just about to boot them from the system for their own safety, when the hacker took out the hardware of the system altogether.

The minds of everyone connected were trapped in the Emulator, in a subconscious state where they would fall prey to whatever they perceived to be reality. And unfortunately, the hacker had been able to create a false reality in which he was all-powerful.

Edward explained that she believed the hacker to be connected to Jericho- so much, in fact, that if he were to be knocked out or killed that the hacker’s presence in the now-unmoderated telepathic nexus would be severed. However, it was apparent that Jericho was wielding borrowed power, and as such he would be very difficult. Meanwhile, Tesla struggled to get the system back online, while Tuona tended to those that had been defeated in the system- most of whom had suffered mental trauma as a result.

In the telepathic world, the team confronted Jericho, who proved to be far more powerful than imagined. However, Chesed had a skill that would be his undoing. Using his powerful Horan mind, he could easily tear at Jericho’s very identity, stripping away his sense of self with a whip composed of malicious thought.

As Jericho was weakened, Tesla managed to get the system online, and restored the original security settings of the Emulator. At this moment, the nexus was once again controlled by the system, and Jericho (who had been fighting with illegitimately acquired strength) was changed, becoming a true reflection of his identity. The real Kyle Jericho was an overweight, physically unfit hacker who was not able to stand up to a single blow from Janet’s beam sword.

Once defeated, the real Kyle was found lurking in a nearby hotel. The being he had sent to register for him was nothing more than a bioreplica designed to look like his idealized form. Kyle was arrested, and Maxwell Demian, the CEO of Kodotama, awarded the courageous team with a special access code that would allow them to use the Emulator any time they saw fit. He told them that other Emulators would be installed at various points in the galaxy, and in addition to recreation, they could also be used for training. It seemed Demian was aware of the true identity of the team, citing that he was a friend of Rachael and Arias Klondstein. He told them the tournament would have to be canceled, and its reward would be offered up again at a later date, where it could be earned through a legitimate competition.

The team then returned to the facility beneath the city. The Arkovans continued to be marveled by the world they had come to experience, and Tuona stated she didn’t want to keep living as a stranger to it all. She still valued her ties to the spirits and the natural world, but she was human- and as such, she felt she should do the best she could to connect with her own people, as she had connected with the forest before that. Rachael agreed to begin teaching the Arkovans about the modern world, if they agreed to study and take it seriously. No one objected, and it seemed that things were finally starting to become stable.

Episode 9

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