Comic 946 - Explore the tunnels

Posted on 18th Apr 2018, 3:47 PM in Shipping Off to Southden
Explore the tunnels

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Author Notes:

Morgenstern 18th Apr 2018, 3:47 PM edit delete
Dr. Finch prepares dinner, and Fuse brings some to the Mars base.

Over food, you and the others discuss what to name the rats. You all eventually settle on Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde, and Pac-Man... since the rats will be wandering through a giant maze.

"He ain't a man, though," Michelle points out. "He's a rat. ...A Pac-Rat."

Sighs and groans fill the room.

After talking out how best to handle it, you sync with Dr. Finch and Michelle to help you share the mental strain. Dr. Finch breaks out pencils and paper--while you maneuver the rats, you'll be feeding him the paths you're taking. You'll both be cleantexed--you, so you won't get lost switching back and forth between rats, and Dr. Finch so he can keep up with the information you're giving him and draw out proper maps.

You wiggle the rats into the apartment building, and slowly work them down into the tunnels below. The tunnels are vast, and seem to stretch on forever, branching off frequently. You send the rats off in completely different directions, but have the majority of them moving more or less in the direction of the Thale Energy building.

The tunnels climb and descend at various points, snaking through the city's architecture. There's a distinct railway system laid out in the tunnels. With this setup, Thale could easily move bioprinters (or anything else, really) between tiers unnoticed.

The curve of the tunnels is subtle, likely to facilitate the movement of vehicles. There aren't any hard bends--everything slopes gently, be it horizontally or vertically. In fact, only a few of the tunnels stay straight for very long at all, and the straight way tunnels are much larger than the others. There are smaller tunnels that branch from and curve around the bigger ones... and oddly, few of the smaller tunnels have railways built in. You're not sure what the narrower paths are for, unless it's purely for maintaining the large tunnels.

As you get closer to Thale's headquarters, the tunnels seem to cluster more, turning back in on themselves and opening wider. It feels redundant--excessive just for transportation. Something about it bothers you, but you can't quite put your finger on it. You don't get too close to Thale's base of operations, as you still worry that the tunnels around there may be protected or patrolled... but you get close to getting close.

You're pulled out of it by a tap on your shoulder. You bring your mind back to the lab, and find Dr. Finch with a sunken, somewhat upset expression. He doesn't say anything... he just slides his various pages of the map thus far across the counter.

You see exactly what he sees.

It's a rough approximation due to the difference in shape, but... the large number of tunnels you've already scouted with rats, the way they curve and flow, the way bundles of the tunnels seem to push toward specific directions often branching from or around larger "main" tunnels...

it vaguely resembles a circulatory system.

It doesn't just look like Thale's building a way to quickly move bioprinters through the city, he's building arteries and veins, with Thale Energy at the "heart" of it all.


Dromite 18th Apr 2018, 4:43 PM edit delete reply
Okaaay. Not creepy at all. I'm saying Thale is making a ritual. Maybe he is going to make himself one with the city- oh dear god I hope that's not his plan.
37212513 18th Apr 2018, 4:47 PM edit delete reply
He's going to flood the city in blood, and become it.

At least that does give us known weak points based on more than just city architecture, but at this point, it might be better, and more merciful, to just nuke the city.
Ronmr 18th Apr 2018, 5:02 PM edit delete reply
Is he going to make his version of Mother's Red?
Archon 18th Apr 2018, 5:02 PM edit delete reply
Might have to, if it comes down to it.
Should let Jury know about this next chance we get.
Whatever her superiors think of us, this could be enough to justify moving on Thale.
Fishbulb 18th Apr 2018, 5:01 PM edit delete reply
If he's making a heart, give it a heart attack. Let's brainstorm a way to block off key arteries.
a_name 18th Apr 2018, 5:03 PM edit delete reply
From orbit... just to be sure.
Guest 18th Apr 2018, 5:04 PM edit delete reply
/\ The message above is a reply to 37212513's message. /\
Crazy Crazy J 18th Apr 2018, 5:12 PM edit delete reply
Hijack his plan before he has everything he needs to enact it, go to Thale Energy and flood the tunnels with your own red.
Akasha 18th Apr 2018, 5:22 PM edit delete reply
Yeah, somehow, I'm not at all surprised it was some form of ritual bullshit. If it ain't an alchemy circle it's gonna be some other form of fucked up rubbish.

Going forward, I feel that our best course of action would be to find a map of that particular portion of the city (at the proper scale, of course), then overlay our map of the tunnels over it, with Thale Energy at the center for reference.
pkrankow 18th Apr 2018, 5:38 PM edit delete reply
Not good news. Have Pierce look in on this as there may be more going on. He has familiarity with what rituals look like.

Becoming the city is pretty serious. It is also something we need to not happen.

Needing every available bio printer makes sense now.
Wote 18th Apr 2018, 7:39 PM edit delete reply
Agreed. Just because it looks like one thing doesn't mean it can't be another. Even if we don't find anything right away, we need to keep in mind the possibility this is doing double-duty as a ritual circle.
Swagner 18th Apr 2018, 6:04 PM edit delete reply
Like, a human one specifically? Or just a more general "big arteries lead to little ones" thing?

Is it possible he plans to flood them with bioprinted blood, to "possess" the city in the same way we have with other (smaller) constructs?
fellow 18th Apr 2018, 6:21 PM edit delete reply
We know the best way to stop this is to target the hackers. We should do our best to get at those guys on time.

Blocking off passages is gonna be difficult. If Thayle's flooding these tunnels with his blood, blockages will have to be water tight.

One way to slow down thayle would be to dump radioactive material into the tunnels. It'll kill off some his blood cells.
pkrankow 18th Apr 2018, 7:32 PM edit delete reply
Radioactive. ... kill everything else first... Fragments are supposed to be resistant to radiation. Much more than humans. I bet the copy is good enough in this department.
Baron11704 18th Apr 2018, 6:22 PM edit delete reply
Problem is, the logistics don't matter, as long as he thinks it's gonna work, it's gonna work.
We gotta make him think it won't work, give him doubts. Or we just blow it up.
Madd 18th Apr 2018, 7:00 PM edit delete reply
Time to enact project Red balls.

Make hundreds of armoured balls of Red and slowly portal them out.

Then start moving them into the tunnels and merging them into walls around key locations.

And while we're doing that our friends can find the Hackers and Douglas Cramp.
Hambone 18th Apr 2018, 7:37 PM edit delete reply
Hmm, we have a "mould" of sorts for a body, and a ton of hacked bio printers to pump out viscera for it... this cannot end well if it is allowed to continue. I do not think we can easily destroy or hinder the tunnels via a method that he can't fix. Rubble can be cleared, and tunnels rebuilt; structural damage to the city above is also a concern. We may have to cut off the head. Can't jumpstart a heart if there's no brain to pilot it. unless something in our book of tricks can do the job, going for Thale Energy may be our best bet.
Blue_Elite 18th Apr 2018, 7:41 PM edit delete reply
I wonder if it'd be worth turning around and going the other way to the lower-tiers. If a ritual is involved, due to the vertical nature of the city that's where we should find cult activity. Normally I'd point out we could then point Jury and her superior's in that direction as they'd be certain to act on obvious cult activity; but I'm assuming the Tradesmen did not point that out because Thale has way too much direct control of the lower-tiers now and there'd be no way to convince the feds to mobilize enough of a force to shut it down before Thale could pull the trigger.

We should finish exploring then get the rats back. It'd be good to find a way out that isn't Howler's apartment; specifically in the upper or middle-tiers so we have a safe way of entering the tunnels (either for blocking/sabotage purposes or to try that steal-Howler's-computer plan).
Then we should look into Fuse's plan to locate the hackers.
Loki 18th Apr 2018, 7:54 PM edit delete reply
The tunnel are where thale is going to try to unfold his own imitation red.
Swagner 18th Apr 2018, 7:59 PM edit delete reply
It doesn't take much of THE BLOOD to override Thale's weak copy, right? Could we place some drums in key "arteries" so that if we can't prevent him flooding them, we can at least usurp his control?
Blue_Elite 18th Apr 2018, 9:29 PM edit delete reply
Actually, it might not be a bad idea to try and flood the tunnels with red. We literally don't have to worry about, "being unable to shut off the hose," as the intent would be to completely flood the tunnels; which thanks to the vertical nature of the tunnels, we could do from one of the upper-tier locations and just let the stuff ride all the way downward.

Of course, we might run into a problem in that we, physically, are the hose and might not be able to release enough with enough pressure for that to work. We might have to perform Pierce's ritual to get the amount/level of red out that we'd need to for that plan to work.
Crestlinger 18th Apr 2018, 8:28 PM edit delete reply
See if any of the main tunnels have a sprinkler system, if yes blood the water supply.
To really screw with his mind have Lydia and Fuse hack the news stations and broadcast old footage of Patton Thale throughout the city. The younger and the more times his name is mentioned the better.
Guest 18th Apr 2018, 8:49 PM edit delete reply
I wonder if we can use the compromised bioprinters to learn how to print fake blood, do it for ourselves, and spam the trade-up ritual. Or rather, 10 copies of the code for bioprinting our blood, then trade them. heck, i wonder how hard it would be to use his bioprinters against him by tricking him into printing out blood