Neurokmancer

Posted on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 by Mobiusman
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Posted in mtg

Venser’s journal, Mirrodin.

7 cards – The grindclocks were striking sixty and the slick, dark tides washed in against the darkslick shores. I was new on the streets of Synod City, and had the distinct feeling I was not welcome. I had been summoned here for a reason, by some planeswalker in need, and I intended to help them however I could, as long as it involved exiling their permanents and returning them to the battlefield at the beginning of the next end step. But first I had to find them – and finding a distressed mage in Synod City is a little like finding a pithing needle in a smokestack: difficult, and involving many references to artifacts.

6 cards – No matter the world, the one place to go to find information cheap is a local tavern. I stepped in from the quicksilver rain to the least expensive-looking joint I could see: a hole in the ground named the Myr Reservoir. Even before my eyes had adjusted to the low, smoky light I realised exactly what kind of establishment I had wandered into: the robot patrons were hunched over darksteel tankards of a noxious, bubbling slime I recognised as Phyrexian oil.


“INTERROGATIVE – What’s your poison, stranger?” An enforcer of a myr addressed me from behind the bar, his dishrag disintegrating even as he swabbed it against an infected glass.


“You hear of any planeswalkers passing through town recently?” I asked the droid straight, leaning forward over the counter conspiratorially and giving a slow wink. I slid an argentum coin towards him.


“CRYPTIC STATEMENT – Look for the negative girl.” Popping the coin into his mouth for metals analysis, the myr turned away to poison another customer, and I slipped out into the rain.

5 cards – The Knowledge Pool stands at the heart of Synod City, its ducts criss-crossing from spire to spire carrying knowledge from every corner of town. It’s kind of like a public library, except the information doesn’t come free and certainly isn’t public. Still, being a planeswalker does have its advantages, and after renting a terminal I was quickly able to equip an infiltration lens and dive deep into the system’s more sensitive networks. Sure enough, I spotted a user on the server under the name ‘Negative Girl’, masking her presence with a dummy signal containing the nonsense message ‘selling gg 9’. She, too, was deep in the data banks, evidently searching for something not intended for her eyes. I launched a psychogenic probe in her direction to find out exactly why she had spent the 3WU to call me, and to my surprise received this instantaneous answer:


‘He’s coming. Not safe here. Meet me elsewhere.’


And with that, she was gone, utterly traceless. Although I didn’t understand her warning, I closed my channels and yanked the terminal as quickly as I could – but not before I felt a trail of red mana light up the pathways I had been perusing a moment before. Whoever we were up against – whoever ‘we’ were – they meant business.

4 cards – I’m not the magical hacker I used to be. I had spent the remainder of the day worrying about tracers planted in my mana pool or mana shorts in my access protocols left by the mysterious red mage I had so narrowly avoided; instead, true to his colour philosophy, he somehow tracked me to my hotel and blew the doors off in the middle of the night. I hurriedly attempted to planeswalk away and gather my wits, but he stopped me with a guttural response:


“Stop!” Rivulets of magma ran through my assailant’s surprisingly perfect abs. As he prepared to turn me to slag, a grin spread across his face. “Hammertime.”


They say a cat has nine lives; luckily, I had won a spare from Ajani last week in a poker game. Moments before a mountain fell on me I felt a current of white mana wash over the hotel, quite suddenly reducing the mountain, the guest rooms, and the creepily nubile leonin staff to so much rubble. There she was, the fourth most attractive female planeswalker to see print: my old acquaintance Elspeth Tirel. Was she the reason I was here in the first place?

3 cards – The hotheaded local planeswalker had got away, and he knew both of our faces. Elspeth and I figured we had about 24 hours before he or someone else came looking. There was a lot to do in that time, but the most important thing was to catch up over a glass of tanglesap. We took a table at a bar called the Gilded Lotus and I asked Elspeth what was going on. Her story was odd, to say the least: she had come to Mirrodin after ‘a wizard told her’ that the Phyrexians were hiding a powerful artifact from her homeworld here. She claimed to understand the risk that she was walking into a trapmaker’s snare, but was determined to find out the truth. After running afoul of security she had called me in for my knack for making things unblockable, but her signal had been weakened by the damping matrix over the area. It was clear that Synod City was hiding something, but I was worried about what exactly we would find.

2 cards – I decided to stick around and help Elspeth, even though I hadn’t got to exile anyone’s permanents the whole time I’d been here. It was partly that I wanted to help her reclaim her past from the Phyrexians, and partly that I hoped we could increase both of our loyalties by proliferating, if you know what I mean. The artifact she was after was being held in a phyrexian vault guarded by a mean customer named Geth. Getting in would be no trouble, but I would need a plan if I didn’t want his artificial claws to ruin my award-winning face. Equally troubling was the fact that Elspeth didn’t even know what the spoils of the vault looked like – she had been told it was a mox of some sort, but whether diamond or just chrome there was no way of telling. Given some more time I could have gotten help from someone like Jace to ensure my face’s safety, but the appearance of our bodybuilding friend cost us that luxury. This may be the last entry.

1 card – I snuck my way into the heart of the vault with no opposition. Even Geth himself was a disappointment, in spite of his fearsome appearance – the obviously delusional man had an obssession with vampires and undead slayers, and kept muttering something about the ‘five seasons of the angel’. I cast a keldon twilight to keep him occupied, because I knew he’d enjoy it.
Inside the final chamber a single shaft of light fell on a small, glimmering object on a kind of altar – like a scene out of a Zendikari adventure story. As I stepped closer I could see that the altar was actually a complex network terminal, with the gem acting as a sort of arcane modem. There was no way to remove it without disturbing the server, but I figured just grabbing the thing and leaving as soon as possible was still the safest option. The gem itself did not look at all like I had expected: it was not made of any mineral I recognised, and was cut into a strange shape, its detailed textures making it look almost like a human brain. Still, it was not for me to judge the artistic customs of Elspeth’s homeworld, so I yanked the mox and was gone.

0 cards – I don’t know if I’d say I regret the mox job, but it certainly didn’t work out the way I had intended it to. The stone had not been a relic at all, but a kind of breaker keeping in check an AI the Phyrexians had developed. The intelligence, which called itself Gleemax, was now free to expand itself throughout the city, and, perhaps, the multiverse. It was Gleemax itself that had tipped off Elspeth in the first place, of course, but it at least shielded us from the Phyrexians and rewarded for our services; I got a really shiny new helmet that is going to make Garruk super-jealous.
I don’t know what Gleemax plans to do with its newfound freedom. It’s stayed under the radar thus far, letting the Phyrexians believe they’re still in control. It mentioned something to me about a particular plane it wanted to find, and a particular order of sorcerors I’d never heard of. The wizards of the sea, or something? Time will tell. It’s been a long sojourn even by my standards, but now… I’ve got some proliferating to do.

 
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