Stuck In Wonderland

What a Monday, I'm telling you. After the adventures in Midsommer's Faire, the gang was ready to start asking some more questions about what was going on with BBEG - or, more importantly, they were prompted to do so be the visitation of the same people from BBEG. The man and woman came by to visit Kal and Dave; Kal played dumb again, but Dave admitted that they had been stalked/attacked by thugs. The suits seemed upset by that, and left quickly.

However, the suits did mention something useful - it was possible to take a virtual tour of the offices. Useful! The gang headed into VR once again, this time for a non-game-related activity: going on an office tour.

It was, like any other tour, equal parts interesting and boring. After wandering the offices and watching a video on the founding of the company, they were given goodie-bags, $5 coupons, and some special-use tokens that will give some some prize in whatever game it's used in. Much, much more interesting was the fact that the code they got from Big Tiny was suddenly activated...

Of course, they tried it immediately. A big, glowing, yellow door opened, revealing... well, nothing. It was glowey and yellow, not a clear portal. Charles - sorry, Cazeon - of course, decided that any way forward was the best way, and quickly stepped through it, followed shortly by Kenny (Dave) and Dapper Dan (Kal).

On the other side of the door was a sleek, white ship - a hallway of some sort, with a lovely view of... Earth? They paid little attention to the view, however, and pushed onward, finding another door that lead them into some sort of dingy container ship. Inside, a battle raged between... orcs with muskets, and Native Americans with laser guns? Rather than broken peace between the two factions, or side with one or the other, they instead opted to steal a freight loader, use it as a shield, and kill both sides. As one does.

Following the corridors, they found some weapons, and another glowy door. Caz headed through first, as the others took a look around. Through the door, he found... a dimly lit ship, blood spattered on the walls, and a very odd android. He crept up on the poor thing and scared it half to death. It didn't seem to know what had happened there, but the crew was all missing, and drag-trails lead to... another door. Caz, of course, went first, and found himself in a large, dark warehouse. Weirdly, his dark-vision seemed to be working - they sure weren't in Kansas any more. He wandered down a hallway, eventually ending up in a huge, empty room. Well, mostly empty. It was about that time that a huge, meaty tentacle slapped to the floor and started fishing around for him. Looking up, he saw a freakishly large monster, eyeballs and tentacles all over the place, basically a Lovecraftian horror without quite as much racism. Realizing he was far, far outclassed, he headed for a different door; he chucked the Better Be Entertainment plaque he had gotten in his goodie bag to distract it, and bolted for the far door.

Eventually, the other two heroes logged in, as well, and joined the "party link" Kenny had shared. They joined Dapper Dan and Cutthroat Kenny on the dimly list freighter. Using his military login, Duramine logged into the freighter's system, and the list of crew: Captain Luis Halsted, Dr. Johnathan Smith, Engineer Jennine Mosely, and two "grunts", Javier Hernandez and Juan Moore. After a little exploring, they also uncovered the scientist's room, where he had stashed an angry, hungry fern, named Gul Ferny.

Caz had the same idea, and found a terminal to hack in to. He figured out he was in some sort of military warehouse, and that the station is suffering "vent issues". He hit the fire alarm switch, but of course, the others didn't hear it - they were still on the other ship. Actually, he tried to contact them as well, and couldn't get anything to them. He raided a supply cabinet for some basic medical supplies and a blaster, and headed down the hallway, and outside the building.

Meanwhile, the others, back aboard the freighter, got tired of waiting for information from him, and headed through the gateway as well. They headed down a hallway, and out a door, to what seemed like an enormous room, with rocks and debris on the floor. It didn't take long to catch up with Caz, and nearly beaned him with a rock. He informed them that they were not in a huge room, but actually outside, on some alien planet. Fancy! Duramine, with his knowledge of space marine designations, realized this was a Space Marine blacksite - a place that "didn't exist". And an abandoned one at that.

The fern, it seems, enjoys blueberries. The huge red monster on the roof, however, was less picky. Having somehow squeezed its enormous bulk through a vent, it started lashing out at the group, landing some not inconsiderable damage. Slowly, they hacked through the tentacles, and finally slashed the beast to death, leaving it to dissolve in its own acidic juices. Yuck. For once, though, Kenny didn't die immediately! Go Kenny!

Inside the creature was a handful of skeletons, almost entirely dissolved, and one acid-resistant-uniform-wearing scientist, not-so-recently deceased. He had, among other things, a picture of a beautiful... elf? Holy crossovers, Batman! A message on the back read, "My Love." How entirely weird and out of place. According to his ID, his name was Edgar Rolf.

With the creature dead, another glowing yellow door appeared, and the group managed to finally find their way back to... Another white ship! Oh, did I not mention they were unable to make their way back to reality? Yeah, the logout function simply didn't seem to be working.

On this ship, there were countless dead bugs - not like roaches, but like bug-aliens, wearing uniforms. Very strangely, there was no way to interact with them - they are part of the environment. Caz checks corpses, all of them, but of course, there was nothing to check. It was like they were part of the decking. Duramine was quietly freaking out, as Kenny tried the comms - and got a response! It was very static-y, but it sounded like... Korean? The bugs seemed to have their own language, it was on the consoles and so forth, but nothing like Korean. The language had 18 characters, and seemed to use base 8 numbers (that is, counting goes from 1 to 7, then 10, 11, up to 16, 17, 20, and so on).

They explored the corridors, finding little of interesting on the first one, but finding a big viewing platform on the second. It seems they were once again hovering over Earth - a little hard to tell from the cloud cover, but they seemed to be over the West Pacific at the moment. They tried to door leading to the rest of the ship - which, I suppose I should stop and mention, but the doors were acting strangely. The terminals, too. They were reacting slightly before they were supposed to. If they pushed a key, or approached a door, they reacted a split second before they actually interacted with them. And what's more, they seemed to refuse to break causality. That is, if they pushed a key, its symbol would appear a split second before they pushed it, but if they started to push a key and stopped before they hit it, it wouldn't ever appear. Even as someone who didn't experience it, what they were describing was freaky. Computers and simulations can do all sorts of things, but this was predicting the future for real, not like some guesswork, but 100% successfully predicting future events, and reacting to them in real time.

Anyway, the team finally managed to get the door open, and suddenly, a winged figure burst out with a scream! She attacked them - and for once, the team decided to interact with her peacefully, and actually managed to calm her down. Which was good, because it sounded like she was in real - a real person! She had been trapped, just like they were, but had been in the game for a really long time. Like, real days kind of time. She couldn't get out. She said that her name was Tessa Drem - Steel_Angel in the game - and she lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She begged them to find her, and then, well, she died. She started coughing up this black sludge, then just... collapsed.

Meanwhile, I had been trying to get ahold of everyone, and after trying to contact them in VR, seeing they were logged in but not able to be contacted, I got Luna15's help, and he managed to break them out. They tried to use the teleportation scroll, hoping to get back to a game they could leave, and that gave Luna15 enough of a gap that he was able to break them out. He called them - group call, with all of them - and explained what he had done. We met up at the diner, and, well, that's where we are now.

Raquise suggested looking for Pinstripe in real life - if the codes from Big Tiny were associated with what they just went through, then maybe there's a real life Pinstripe? Worth checking out, anyway. They told us the whole story, but I think Raquise hit the nail on the head. He said, "We were in our VR headsets... but what if we were just outside of Earth? Somehow, while we were still inside the game... we were also in space?"

We split up - it's something like 3AM now - and the others headed home to do some research. I'll fill in what they found once they check in tomorrow.

Edit: Charles looked into the BBEG offices (yeah, ok, I see it now...), Robyn looked up info on the girl in VR, Tessa, and got her address. Raquise looked at related crimes, stuff like missing persons, or people that got stuck in VR, and found (concerningly) that VR players had seen a recent increase of seemingly unrelated events - normal people jumping in front of traffic, or dying from staying on VR too long and not stopping to drink water, or otherwise things going terribly wrong when the person was acting entirely out of character. Kal, finally, looked up info on the founder. More on that in the morning, I'm beat!