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 Do You Call This a Life? 
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Post Do You Call This a Life?
Code:
TEMPS ATOMIQUE INTERNATIONAL 64-BIT TIME: 40000002064e71b0
UTC 2245-7-23T03:00:00

ABELSON check ROUNDER, report.
Reading you now, ABELSON. All quiet, except 1/f pink noise. But it did blink at me.
Blink? Get the rods.
I don't-
If the rods are down, arm bore taps, and do it fast.
Left guy is shot, hydraulic jam. Right resistance high. I'll run off of one.
And well head 2?
WH2 operator is puking, same as when you last called.
Good, it'll clean him out. Well head 3?
WH3 passed all [mem]branes.
Good.
I'll see you soon, old friend.

Of course, you're alone. You haven't picked up a family. You're sleeping on ratty microfiber in an apartment or a cell of no more than 150 feet square. Your body is contorted around a single cushion - it came with the new chairs in the complex hall, you knifed it free at night, then bleached it in the sink so that no one would recognize it. It's no recipe for comfort.

Even so...

You're still dreaming deeply. It's too early for life to start - your head is full of murk, black fog, stupor that clings like rubber cement and gums up your ability to reason. Formless fears are running by, doing laps around you. Your arms and legs are twitching to keep them away. Though they are poisonous and amorphous, many in number, you claw them back. You're in agony, with sticky films on your eyes, but your willpower makes them reel. As more of their ghostly bodies turn to paste under your boots, you begin reaching for air, scrambling up waves of them with arms outstretched to a distant light...

Quote:
This happens all the time, but you're never quite able to get rid of:

As fragile as you are, one individual, you're necessary - you're positively vital. You've made yourself a key cog in the vast machine of the UTON and the Party of Nations. You are the tool and creature of this protective structure: a dozen worlds that banded together, with lead, blood and concrete amassed, to shield ten billion souls from the black unknown and the stranglehold of Earth. Solar campaigns of sabotage and murder have only made your people tougher. They've made you leaner. They've taken your peace from you, they've all but taken the fat from your body. And old Earth shot-callers can never rest, because your existence is an affront to their greed.
Quote:
Your past and your profession is colored by your time served with:

Before you wake up, I need to know just a little more about who you are. To set the scene, you understand? The sheaf of documents, passport and residency permit locked in your desk - should be just the thing.
Quote:
Your name would be...?
>...
And your age?
>...
What do you look like?
>....
Born to...?


(CYOA)


Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:55 am
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
>Memories of home.
Maybe some are even happy.
>Workers.
Academia is hell, I'm not quite a criminal, and there's no way I'd align myself with a shitboot politician. Explorers are some brave sods, interesting folk, but I like my boots on the ground. Big machines are the nice kind of complicated, where all the parts have a function and you can tell how and why it makes sense.
>A family settling the wilderness of Schonberg
Cold, but work warms you.


Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:18 am
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Name: Kiba Loren
Age: 26
Appearance: A somewhat tall, lanky looking man with messy dark hair that barely extends past his ears, and scarce stubble too thin to form a proper beard if grown out. He would seem unremarkable if it weren't for his left arm being deathly pale and unmarked, a seam of sorts at the shoulder, and a starburst of scars on the left side of his torso and face like streaks of light radiating outward, seared into his flesh.


Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:36 am
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
Does this look like you?

KIBA LOREN


Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:46 am
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> CONFIRM


Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:29 pm
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
> I look prettier when I'm drunk. But yeah.


Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:38 pm
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7-24-2245
06:45

The alarm screeches, but you had already cracked your eyes open five minutes prior. You slap the switch with your right hand, shutting it up instantly. You're lying on your back under a mound of reflective thermal blankets, in repose like a dead man in a coffin, left arm immobilized in a cloth wrapping. A cold mug of powdered black tea, abandoned the night before, is waiting in the microwave. In the larder there's hardtack laden with fat and sugar, spiced to edibility. You're running low on the good stuff, real protein - plague cut into the last harvest from the Equator, and they diverted it down South to protect the Northern Limit's fragile agro-arcologies. Though... there might be fish at the distribution center today.

But enough thinking about sundries. You've got to get to the plant and the roads are iced to oblivion, which will delay you. The drumbeat of the quota is getting faster, and you're sure that lateness would be noted. This week the plant is installing new Haber-Bosch capacity, to make the North green with high-value fertilizer - tons and tons of ammonium nitrate.

Your radio is squawking faintly. It seems to have drifted while you slept.

>Do you take time to tune your radio?

It's either calling the line for a pickup and waiting for the commuter half-track to carve its way through the snowdrifts here, to the base of the tower where you live - or you step out with your spiked boots and make your way on foot. The ⊕ savings won't be too great, but you can't guarantee the half-track will even arrive. Looking out the window, you can't see the usual chains of orange boxes trundling toward the horizon down Polar Highway 52.

>How do you intend to get to the plant?

>Other, unspecified actions.

KIBA LOREN


Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:41 am
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
> Heat the tea a good minute or so and tune the radio. Grab tea when it's done and drink up.


Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:36 pm
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7-24-2245
06:48

Throwing off the sheets, you rise and stretch, then gently unbind your dummy arm. Dressing quickly, you pull on thermal underwear and the lower half of your cold-weather gear - bright orange snow pants combined with bib overalls that clip over your shoulders, so hard-wearing you can barely bend the fabric.

You get the tea warming in the microwave, then set to fiddling with the shortwave radio. Toying with the dials for the RF and audio gain, you quickly set them back with a hiss of irritation after getting unexpectedly blasted through the headset. It's a noisy day. Three, maybe four operators are working near 9.5 MHz at high power with a lot of spectral splatter, pushing dispatches even further north - to the shantytowns supporting FOB Lopatin and the decontamination crews prepping Crown Glacier. The droning chatter of their crosstalk seems faster than usual. The storms of acronyms and numbers are starting to smear into new words in their own right.

It's nothing you can interpret, so you apply a narrow-bandpass filter and start sweeping the receiver frequency in a more selective fashion. Eventually you find the news beacon. Up here, it's not much better than a fresh telegram packet in the Old West.

The "survival radio" portion of the news is characteristically dour.
Code:
"TEMPERATURES DROPPING... WILL BE AT 30 BELOW BY NIGHTFALL, BE ADVISED - ROAD PATROLS WILL NOT ARRIVE IN TIME IF YOU ARE STRANDED. BRING EMERGENCY FUEL AND HEATING ELEMENTS.

POLAR HIGHWAY 53 WEST BRANCH IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR UTON AIRSTRIP OPERATIONS. FIND AN ALTERNATE ROUTE AND DO NOT APPROACH ANY BARRICADES."

The "culture radio" operating in parallel is a bit more cheerful.
Code:
"Laszlo here. In light of the upcoming festival in Novay Vid, I'll be bringing you more of those down-home Schonberg ballads. It gets cold enough up here that you almost start to think you're back on those plains! For those of you who are just joining us - I raise my glass. To the glacier breakers and the settlers."

(A guitar strum, expanded and distorted, fills your headset with warmth. A man picks up his gravelly voice into song. About something he loved that'll never come back... "Green Memory". This one is especially famous - and a bit dicey to play on radio. Something like this could be considered to be antisocial music. You hope Laszlo knows what he's doing.)

You almost forget to grab your tea from the microwave. After a minute you lean over, crack the door and take the first few scalding sips from the mug. Bitter like no leaves could ever be - this stuff has been extracted with supercritical CO2, lyophilized, the works.

Novay Vid is a genuine town, just south of where you live - which is in the middle of nowhere, essentially, a nameless waystation and refuel point between the Vid and your workplace.

KIBA LOREN


Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:38 am
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
> How far away is the plant? Do we have the clothes/supplies to survive if we leg it and sprain an ankle on the way there?


Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:06 am
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7-24-2245
06:55

You weigh your odds. It's a mile uphill, but you know a mile can turn into forever if you were to take a stumble near nightfall.

For now, the weather is a comparatively balmy 10 below zero, and you've got the proper gear to make a go of it - all-weather attire, spiked boots with enough support and traction that you're fairly confident about each step. During the daytime, you can also usually count on a continuous flow of traffic toward the plant. Today does seem unusually quiet on PH52, but the plant has its own access road which sees construction materials and commuters.

KIBA LOREN


Last edited by TheKebbit on Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:14 am, edited 2 times in total.



Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:13 am
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
> Suit up and leg it.


Thu Aug 08, 2019 4:19 am
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7-24-2245
07:10

You pull on layer after layer of patched sweaters, waterproof rubberized jackets and finally the outer shell - your parents' pride, a hand-me-down parka lined with fur, cut from something feral on Schonberg. Backpack in hand, you duck out of your apartment, locking and chaining the door behind you, then trudge down the hall and flip the lever for the construction lift that serves this half-finished complex. Flakes of snow waft gently through holes in the shaft that expose old scaffolding.

The lift groans, but takes you smoothly down to the abandoned lobby/loading dock at the base of the building. You pull on dark goggles, wrap your face in a scarf and force the entryway open against a fresh snowdrift, then begin your long trek to the plant.

You pass familiar sights. A few snowmobiles abandoned, rusted out by the side of the highway, which is more of a suggestion than anything - a flat space with no lanes, marked with old plastic rope, stones, tires half-buried in the permafrost. There's a solar panel and radio beacon every kilometer or so. People like to tie ribbons to them.

Your spiked boots bite into sheets of hard ice from time to time. An occasional gust of wind finds its way into your scarf, burning your face. The Diamant locals, or at least the ones they import from the south, can barely handle this ♥♥♥♥. You have never had any problems with the weather. As long as you don't get overconfident and lazy...

7-24-2245
07:55

Arriving at the access road to the plant, you have the good fortune to hitch a ride on a cargo snowmobile towing components in from Novay Vid. The driver, an amorphous shape covered in blankets, slows down and shouts hello as you clamber up the rope nets on its side. You brace your back against the roof rack, then put your feet up.

Eventually, the smoking towers of Crown 77 come into view around the bend, along with its rows and rows of concrete walls, lined with automated searchlights and barbed wire. The ground near Crown 77 is slick with rainbow patches of oil and waste, and the glacier pack itself has started to assume a wide range of odd colors. That's because depending on the day, the snow here falls blue, pink or black. Swirls of metal soot are painted into this earth, running back for decades.

Officially - this is the Crown Glacier Refinery and Chemical Base. A proud institution, the misshapen and mutated descendant of a single oil rig from the first northern expeditions. Everyone you know calls it "77". You have never understood why.

The friendly driver comes to a halt at the gates of Crown 77. They are sturdy and oversized walls of steel, mechanically retracted - you've never seen them opened past 25%. Usually, foot traffic comes through the base of the watchpost attached to the left of the gates, which has its own smaller armored door to a chamber for checking visitors. You throw your backpack off into a waiting snowdrift and carefully lower yourself off the roof. The driver appears to be tied up radioing with the gate guards, a few of whom have started to come out on foot to inspect his papers. That's odd. Ordinarily he would have a transponder and they'd just wave him through, pulling the gates ahead of time.

>Do you pass through the checkpoint as fast as possible, or find a way to loiter a bit before entering the fumes of Crown 77?

KIBA LOREN


Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:56 pm
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
> I'm a bit curious, but I also have places to be. Loitering probably won't get me anything story-worthy anyway.


Sun Aug 25, 2019 3:56 pm
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Post Re: Do You Call This a Life?
> Continue the journey on foot - work calls, and our boss'll have our neck if we don't answer.


Sun Aug 25, 2019 8:16 pm
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