Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Emergency - Introduction

         This month's offering on Empyrean Dreams has a very different format from our usual stories.  Instead of writing and posting it chapter-by-chapter, I have written it page-by-page and posted everything at once.  This story has multiple plotlines, branching off from one another in a tree structure.  Which one(s) you read is up to you.  

         If you're familiar with the Choose Your Own Adventures book format, this structure should be obvious.  After reading each page, select the action you'd prefer to follow.  The link will take you to the next appropriate page.  Your story may end after one (good or bad) decision, after five choices, or possibly after ten. 

        To avoid spoiling any surprises, I recommend using the link below to get started.  Alternately, you can go to the page labeled The Emergency - Start Here!  Either way, your browser will only load the current page and you won't accidentally see a page too early. 

         It's very tempting to look at all the possible endings of a Choose Your Own Adventure story, but try to wait until you've chosen a few full storylines on your own.  Some endings might not make as much sense out of context.  You might not know which decisions lead to which endings.  Some endings even contain clues to help you make better (or worse, but more interesting) choices on a future reading. 

         Last of all, there are a lot of pages.  Trees end up with many leaves.  If you try to read everything in order, you get a lot of gibberish.  Sorry that the month's page listing is ridiculously long as a consequence. 

         Blogger isn't the ideal site format for something like this, but one of Ariana's and my goals for this site was to explore how technology could influence our writing and science-fiction writing especially.  This story is one of the big projects I've been hinting at for some time.  I hope you enjoy both the novelty and the experience itself.

The Emergency - Page 1

(home)

          Ki 'I Mak Tu Si, NiMat ChoTen!  Good day, Worker ChoTen!  

         Are you prepared for another productive day on EssTinTal?  Good!  Your professional skills are once again required on the Y-64 maglev rail line to GeVinVas.  Switch number 3 has developed an unknown fault and requires diagnosis and repair.  Please retrieve your toolkit and a matter synthesis unit and report to TeKenVas Station for transport to the switch site.  All trains have been diverted from the second and fourth switches along Y-64 until your repairs are complete, so do not delay!  Show the pride of the Iron Caste through your efficient productivity!

The Emergency - Page 2

(work site)

           Well done on responding so promptly.  The service transport from TeKenVas Station has done its work admirably, delivering you to the third switch station.  The transport has been called to GeVinVas Station to load additional passengers, but will return at the end of your work shift. 
          You will, no doubt, enjoy the unspoiled view of nature in this undeveloped region.  Be mindful of potential wildlife hazards: keep your high-frequency repellence emitter active at all times and do not wander into the surrounding forests.  Hazardous species of plants, insects, and even some large predators remain unmanaged at present. 
          Apologies to imply that you would leave your work site before today’s project is complete! 

The Emergency - Page 3

(home)

                Worker ChoTen, you have been cited for dereliction of duty.  As this was your first infraction, the penalty would normally be minor.  However, the misdeeds of other workers have compounded today, resulting in two train derailments.  One occurred on the Y-64 line.  You could have prevented this tragedy.  You will now report to that crash site to assist in cleanup duties.  Let the blood of your wounded and deceased neighbors be a reminder that no duty is minor enough to neglect.

END

The Emergency - Page 4

(work site)

                Your analysis has identified the cause of damage: a section of the switching mechanism has been removed, cut loose by a high-intensity beam weapon or tool.  The most likely explanation is sabotage.  Law enforcement personnel have been notified as a result of your findings.  Please wait until they arrive and collect evidence, before proceeding with repairs.

The Emergency - Page 5

(work site)

                Why have you not begun work?  While the beauty of this region does deserve appreciation, you have a job to do.  Please begin your diagnosis immediately, or you will be cited for dereliction of duty.  Passengers have been diverted from this line all morning, resulting in delays throughout the region.  Your continued procrastination directly affects the schedules and livelihood of thousands of your fellow Zig. 

The Emergency - Page 6

(forest near work site)

                Global positioning data shows that you have moved away from your designated work site and are moving through the surrounding forest, in violation of your work orders and all good sense.  If you do not return to the work site immediately, you will be cited for dereliction of duty.  Moreover, you have already been warned about dangerous fauna and flora in this area.  If you continue further, you are taking unacceptable risks with your own safety… not to mention the safety of the Y-64 maglev line!

The Emergency - Page 7

(work site)

                Thank you for your patience.  Law enforcement transport has been dispatched and will arrive within 2 duodecads.  In the meantime, you are permitted to take a break, including consumption of refreshment if desired.  Again, please do not disturb the work site, as it is now considered an active crime…
 
WARNING.  UNAUTHORIZED TRAIN INCOMING. 


                Positioning data shows a single-car train on track Y-64, incoming from GeVinVas.  Fourth switch interdiction has been overridden.  At current velocity, this train will reach your position in 1 duodecad.  Based on previous analysis, completing repairs in time to prevent derailment at the damaged switch has a very low probability.  Recommend moving to a safe distance away from the switch site.

The Emergency - Page 8

(work site)

                Your zeal in completing repairs would be admirable, if it were not directly in opposition to previous instructions.  You have now contaminated an active crime scene, which may interfere with investigations, possibly allowing the saboteurs to avoid detection.  In addition to a citation for disobedience, you will likely be subject to legal prosecution.  Please wait for the arrival of law enforcement…
WARNING.  UNAUTHORIZED TRAIN INCOMING.

                Positioning data shows a single-car train on track Y-64, incoming from GeVinVas.  Fourth switch interdiction has been overridden.  At current velocity, this train will reach your position in 1 duodecad.  Based on previous analysis, completing repairs in time to prevent derailment at the damaged switch has equal probabilities of success or failure.  Recommend moving to a safe distance away from the switch site.

The Emergency - Page 9

(work site)

                Despite your unnecessary delay, you have returned to work.  Better late than never.  Your analysis has identified the cause of damage: a section of the switching mechanism has been removed, cut loose by a high-intensity beam weapon or tool.  The most likely explanation is sabotage.  Law enforcement personnel have been notified as a result of your findings.  Please wait until they arrive and collect evidence, before proceeding…
WARNING.  UNAUTHORIZED TRAIN INCOMING. 

                Positioning data shows a single-car train on track Y-64, incoming from GeVinVas.  Fourth switch interdiction has been overridden.  At current velocity, this train will reach your position in 1 duodecad.  Based on previous analysis, completing repairs in time to prevent derailment at the damaged switch has a very low probability.  Recommend moving to a safe distance away from the switch site.

The Emergency - Page 10

(work site)

                You have been cited for dereliction of duty, a negative mark on your permanent work record.  Your laxity has not only harmed your own career, it has adversely affected citizens all across this region.  Continued delays will result in further citation and the dispatch of a different maglev worker to handle this repair.  If that is required, you will be terminated from employment with no further discussion.  Is that understood, worker Cho…

WARNING.  UNAUTHORIZED TRAIN INCOMING. 

                Positioning data shows a single-car train on track Y-64, incoming from GeVinVas.  Fourth switch interdiction has been overridden.  At current velocity, this train will reach your position in 1 duodecad.  Based on previous analysis, completing repairs in time to prevent derailment at the damaged switch is impossible.  Recommend moving to a safe distance away from the switch site.  Congratulations, your idleness will result in considerable destruction of property and possible loss of life.

The Emergency - Page 11

(forest near work site)

                Worker ChoTen, your global positioning shows that you have remained off-site for the last 5 duodecads.  You have been cited for dereliction of duty, a negative mark on your permanent work record.  Your laxity has not only harmed your own career, it has adversely affected citizens all across this region.  Continued delays will result in further citation and the dispatch of a different maglev worker to handle this repair.  If that is required, you will be terminated from employment with no further discussion.  Is that understood, worker Cho…

WARNING.  UNAUTHORIZED TRAIN INCOMING. 

                Positioning data shows a single-car train on track Y-64, incoming from GeVinVas.  Fourth switch interdiction has been overridden.  At current velocity, this train will reach third switch in 1 duodecad.  Based on previous analysis, completing repairs in time to prevent derailment at the damaged switch is impossible.  Remain at your present location for safety.  Congratulations, your idleness will result in considerable destruction of property and possibly, loss of life.

The Emergency - Page 12

(deep forest)

                Please report on your current location.  Global positioning shows you more than half a kilometer from the work site.  Assuming this is not a malfunction, you have traveled far from your designated location and are in significant danger from local wildlife.  If this is accurate, you will be cited for dereliction of duty.  Return immediately to the work site and begin repairs…

WARNING.  UNAUTHORIZED TRAIN INCOMING. 

Positioning data shows a single-car train on track Y-64, incoming from GeVinVas.  Fourth switch interdiction has been overridden.  At current velocity, this train will reach third switch in 1 duodecad.  Based on previous analysis, completing repairs in time to prevent derailment at the damaged switch is impossible.  Return to the region adjacent to maglev track Y-64 for maximum safety precaution. 

The Emergency - Page 13

(work site)

                Worker ChoTen, please report.  Track information shows derailment of the unauthorized train on Track Y-64, at your location, third switch.  Track circuitry has been interrupted and satellite imagery shows major damage to the area.  Law enforcement transport will arrive on-site shortly. 

Repeat, please report, worker ChoTen.  Are you injured?  Update your status.  Repeat, please report…

[Law enforcement reports worker ChoTen deceased, per positive identification of remains.  Cause of death: high-speed impact with maglev train car following derailment.]

END

The Emergency - Page 14

(work site)

                Despite ignoring orders, your eyewitness report on the derailment of train Y-64-Vi is appreciated.  Track circuitry has been interrupted, which should prevent further disaster, though it also means shutdown of all Y-line trains for the foreseeable future. 

Attend to your injuries immediately.  Perhaps that pain will be a suitable reminder to follow instructions in your future assignments.  If you had not been so close when the train derailed, you might not have been hurt. 
Law enforcement transport will arrive shortly.  Repeat, please stay where you are until assistance arrives. 

The Emergency - Page 15

(forest near work site)

                Thank you for following instructions.  Track information shows derailment of the unauthorized train on Track Y-64, third switch.  No doubt, you heard the impact itself.  Track circuitry has been interrupted and satellite imagery shows major damage to the area.  Law enforcement transport will arrive on-site shortly.  Please return to the work site to wait for their arrival and provide a statement.

The Emergency - Page 16

(work site)

                Despite ignoring orders, your instincts and skill must be commended.  Successful repair of the third switch has prevented disaster and the unauthorized train on line Y-64 has continued on to TeKenVas Station.  Those onboard will be interrogated to determine their reason for overriding track security and continuing on an unsafe line.  Those passengers owe you their lives, worker ChoTan. 

                Law enforcement transport will arrive on site shortly.  You may still be subject to punitive action due to your interference with an active crime scene.  Our legal counsel will seek dismissal of charges due to your role in avoiding loss of property and life.  Please remain on site to give a statement to the authorities.

The Emergency - Page 17

(forest near work site)

                Despite your prior errors in judgment, this time your choice was wise.  Remaining at a distance from the tracks has kept you safe from injury.  Track information shows derailment of the unauthorized train on Track Y-64, at the third switch.  No doubt, you heard the impact itself.  Track circuitry has been interrupted and satellite imagery shows major damage to the area.  Law enforcement transport will arrive on-site shortly.  Please return to the work site to wait for their arrival and provide a statement.

The Emergency - Page 18

(deeper forest)

                Your behavior remains consistent, albeit inexplicable.  At least, remaining at a distance from the tracks has kept you safe from injury. Track information shows derailment of the unauthorized train on Track Y-64, at the third switch.  You likely heard the impact itself, even at a significant distance.  Track circuitry has been interrupted and satellite imagery shows major damage to the area.  Law enforcement transport will arrive on-site shortly.  Please return to the work site to wait for their arrival and provide a statement.


The Emergency - Page 19

(deepest forest)

                Worker ChoTen, please report.  Law enforcement has arrived on-site and reports no sign of your presence, either among the casualties of the derailment or in the surrounding area.  Repeat, please report immediately…

[Law enforcement reports worker ChoTen deceased, per positive identification of remains.  Cause of death: small-aperture plasma thrower weaponry.  Responsible party unknown and presumed at large.  Most likely culprits are same persons responsible for derailment of train Y-64-Vi and assassination of passengers aboard.  Evidence indicates deceased was unaware of assailants and death was immediate upon impact.]

END

The Emergency - Page 20

(forest near work site)

                Worker ChoTen, your current actions are extremely inadvisable.  Not only are you leaving the site of an accident, which is both an actionable offense per terms of your employment and a legally prohibited act, you are also injured.  Continued movement may result in serious harm and possibly death.  Medical assistance is only available at the designated location, your former work site. Please return to the tracks near third switch as instructed. 

The Emergency - Page 21

(work site)

                Citizen ChoTen, thank you for your assistance with the investigation of this crime.  Given your injuries, you will be transported back to TeKenVas for immediate medical attention.  Law enforcement officers will escort you off-site immediately.

… ... ...

                Good morning, citizen!  We trust your stay at TeKenVas Medical has been pleasant thus far.  Per your search request, here are the relevant news reports: Law enforcement exchanged fire with unknown assailants in the countryside near GeVinVas.  The attackers were armed heavily, with weapons including plasma throwers.  Significant casualties were incurred on both sides.  Also lost were the three passengers of train Y-64-Vi, which derailed due to sabotage on the maglev line leading to TeKenVas.  Among these passengers was the Revered HaKiRozTuVa.  Early reports suggest that the Revered One was forced aboard the unauthorized train due to an assassination attempt in GeVinVas.  It is not yet known if that attack, the train sabotage, and the subsequent attack on law enforcement are related, but this seems the most reasonable explanation.

                Apologies for such unpleasant news.  Try not to allow it to trouble your rest and recovery.

END

The Emergency - Page 22

(wreckage site)

                I’m sorry, but there is nothing more that you can do here.  It appears that all three passengers aboard this train were killed by the impact following its derailment.  Based on your description of their remains, particularly the clothing of the eldest male individual, these persons are likely the Revered HaKiRozTuVa and two of his associates. 

                While your altruistic impulses are appreciated, continued inspection of the accident site may jeopardize criminal investigation.  Furthermore, your injuries may worsen if you do not receive medical help soon.  Please return to the tracks and wait for authorities to arrive.

The Emergency - Page 23

(work site)

Citizen ChoTen, thank you for your assistance with the investigation of this crime.  Please remain nearby in case we need further information.  I apologize that no information regarding the victims can be released at this time.

The Emergency - Page 24

(forest near work site)

                Worker ChoTen, your persistent disobedience has been noted and a citation added to your record.  In addition, you may be prosecuted for failure to assist in a criminal investigation.  This is your final warning: return to your prior work site at the third switch station or your employment will be terminated.

The Emergency - Page 25

(deeper forest)

                Remain quiet.  Do not respond to this message.  While trying to identify your location, search has identified a group of life-forms moving in an organized pattern toward your prior work site.  Behavior indicates these are sapients rather than wildlife.  No other persons are authorized to be in this area.  Their approach toward the recently sabotaged maglev tracks is highly suspicious.

Law enforcement officers are moving to intercept.  If you stay quiet, the heavy overgrowth should camouflage your presence.  Continue to observe if possible, but do not move from your position.

The Emergency - Page 26

(work site)

                Citizen ChoTen, thank you for your assistance with the investigation of this crime.  Your quick thinking and action saved the lives of three Zig, including the Revered HaKiRozTuVa.  The Revered One was the target of an assassination attempt earlier today in GeVinVas and was forced to take an unauthorized train to escape death.  If you had not acted, he might still have died in an accident due to sabotage.

                You will be escorted to TeKenVas for further discussion and for your own protection.  The parties responsible for the attempt – or attempts – on the Revered One remain at large.  You may be targeted for disrupting this group’s plans.  The Revered One also wishes to thank you in person for your service.  This is a rare honor for an Iron Caste worker, particularly one of your rank.  Congratulations.

END

The Emergency - Page 27

(forest near work site)

                Where are you going?  Even though your previous actions proved correct, you are not permitted to continue disregarding orders!  Have you not heard the previous warnings regarding the uncivilized regions surrounding you?  Return to your work site immediately.  Law enforcement officers are waiting to take your statement and escort you back.  Comply and this violation will be overlooked.

The Emergency - Page 28

(forest near work site)

                Citizen ChoTen, why was it necessary to chase you down?  At first, it seemed like you had saved the lives of several Zig with your quick thinking.  Your timely repair of the sabotaged switch prevented an accident that might have killed three passengers on an unauthorized train.  However, your flight from the scene has raised suspicion regarding your motives. 

                Were you thoughtful, fortunate, or prepared for this specific problem?  Did you have previous knowledge about this sabotage?  We have reason to believe this act was part of a larger plot involving an assassination attempt in GeVinVas.  Are you part of this conspiracy?  Was this a setup to make you look like a hero, gaining the trust of the potential victims? 

                You will be escorted to TeKenVas Civil Authority for questioning.  You are not under arrest at this time, but failure to comply will result in charges and penalties, potentially including arrest and termination of your employment.

END

The Emergency - Page 29

(deeper forest)

Worker ChoTen, please report.  Law enforcement has arrived on-site and reports no sign of your presence.  Repeat, please report…

[Law enforcement reports worker ChoTan deceased, per positive identification of remains.  Cause and time of death are uncertain.  Remains have been extensively damaged by scavenger insects native to the region.  In addition, the victim shows signs of tissue damage consistent with plant toxins from area species.  It is not known if worker ChoTan died of asphyxiation due to toxic reaction or was merely paralyzed long enough to be killed by insect bites.  See attached file regarding investigation into the citizen’s connection to assassination plot against Revered HaKiRozTuVa.]

END

The Emergency - Page 30

(wreckage site)

                Citizen ChoTen, you are trespassing on an active crime scene.  If you have contaminated evidence, you will be prosecuted for interfering with an investigation.  In combination with your presence and potential involvement with this sabotage, you will need to answer questions at TeKenVas Civil Authority.  You will also receive medical care for your injuries at that time.  You will be escorted to ensure your compliance.

END

The Emergency - Page 31

(wreckage site)

                Your inspection has revealed an unexpected clue on the body of one of the two assistants of the Revered HaKiRozTuVa.  Close investigation shows the presence of thin whitish threads extending from the throat and nostrils of that Zig.  In another species, these rhizomes would be signs of Awakener bonding.  Awakeners are symbiotic, sentient, psychic fungal organisms.  However, all data on them indicates that Zig physiology is toxic to Awakeners.  Either that species has overcome its intolerance for our biochemistry – possibly through genetic manipulation – or else this Zig is infested by some other type of organism with similar markers.  In either case, this discovery is cause for significant concern.

                Why would an Awakener be present on EssTinTal?  In particular, why would it be present, unannounced, in the retinue of a Revered leader?  This oddity raises deeper questions, particularly in the context of an assassination.  Per the officers on site, the Revered One was threatened by armed conspirators in GeVinVas and forced aboard this train.  The sabotage you uncovered was likely a backup measure to ensure he did not escape. 

                Please remain on site to assist the officers with their further investigation.  While your interference was not recommended or appreciated…
 
WARNING!  HOSTILITIES DETECTED.

                Worker ChoTen, transmissions indicate your position is under assault by unknown persons with illegal and off-world weaponry.  Officers are reporting wounded and dead.  Please confirm your status; hopefully your position near the wreckage has provided you some cover.  Law enforcement forces will return fire to protect you, as well.  Reinforcements have been dispatched.  Maintain your position if possible.

The Emergency - Page 32

(forest near wreckage site)

                Worker ChoTen, your global positioning shows that you have moved into the wilderness regions near track Y-64.  Your injured status makes this highly inadvisable, particularly given the presence of assistance nearby.  Please return to your prior work site.  Law enforcement personnel will need your statement regarding the sabotage and your subsequent interaction with the crash…
WARNING!  HOSTILITIES DETECTED.

Worker ChoTen, transmissions indicate that your prior work site is under assault by unknown persons with illegal and off-world weaponry.  Officers are reporting wounded and dead.  Please confirm your status; hopefully your position has provided you some cover.  Law enforcement forces will return fire to protect you, as well.  Reinforcements have been dispatched.  Maintain your position if possible.

The Emergency - Page 33

(work site)

      Thank you for complying with...

WARNING!  HOSTILITIES DETECTED.

Worker ChoTen, transmissions indicate your position is under assault by unknown persons with illegal and off-world weaponry.  Officers are reporting wounded and dead.  Please confirm your status; hopefully your position has provided you some cover.  Law enforcement forces will return fire to protect you, as well.  Reinforcements have been dispatched.  Maintain your position if possible.

The Emergency - Page 34

(wreckage site)

I’m sorry, but there is nothing more that you can do here.  It appears that all three passengers aboard this train were killed by the impact following its derailment.  Based on your description of their remains, particularly the clothing of the eldest male individual, these persons are likely the Revered HaKiRozTuVa and two of his associates. 

                While your altruistic impulses are appreciated, continued inspection of the accident site may jeopardize criminal investigation.  Please return to the tracks and wait until authorities have…

WARNING!  HOSTILITIES DETECTED.

Worker ChoTen, transmissions indicate your position is under assault by unknown persons with illegal and off-world weaponry.  Officers are reporting wounded and dead.  Please confirm your status; hopefully your position near the wreckage has provided you some cover.  Law enforcement forces will return fire to protect you, as well.  Reinforcements have been dispatched.  Maintain your position if possible.