Deep inside its womb of cold stone, the ancient computer had been dutifully keeping track of the passage of every centisecond for 315,359,999,999,351 repetitions. It had no concept of how long such a time was or what would happen when it finished. It was simply a slave to a greater program without even its own awareness of the passage of time. All it did, all it knew to do, was to subtract one from a meaningless total precisely every hundredth of a second, only to cease when the subtraction resulted in zero and notify another of having done so. It lacked even an awareness of the approaching finality of its task.
It was a necessity, of course. No sapient being could do nothing but count in reverse 315,359,999,999,679 times without going insane, not even a machine. It was the curse of intelligence to be incapable of such mind-numbing tasks for so long without variation or distraction. Eventually, the rote becomes so deeply burned into their neurons, or equivalent, that the mind risks becoming stuck, and will either break and devolve into a simple timer, no longer capable of doing anything else, or snap violently away in a desperate attempt at self-preservation despite damage already too bad to easily return to normal function. But for the sake of the imagery, let us bless it with a little personification.
For 315,359,999,999,815 cycles, the machine had maintained its lonely vigil. With no eyes to see and no ears to hear, it was an existence shrouded in silent, impenetrable darkness, only blind faith assuring the eternal counter that there was even anything there to receive its signal. Yet it never hesitated, never questioned, never doubted. It was a good and loyal servant who would carry out its commandment regardless of whether or not it meant anything. There was a sharp inhale as it neared the end, systems priming in building anticipation of its imminent completion.
And there it was, the blessed zero that it had pursued for 315,360,000,000,000 cycles. The command it had held onto for so long was sent, and its systems gave a contented sigh as it wound down into a well-deserved rest, the sleep of the faithful and vigilant rewarded. There it would remain until its uncomprehended master gave it the order to resume counting once more. And on another machine awakened by the sacred command, a new code began.
INITIATE BOOT/IGNITION SEQUENCE: FRWD MGMT SYSTEM 0003 PSWD: MASTER ACKNOWLEDGED BRINGING REACTOR OUT OF SLEEP MODE
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It began as a low rumble, so low that it didn't even register to the ear, and climbed to a distant growl like faraway thunder. The mountain snow knew before any other, and fled the frozen stone beneath before it grew into a full earthquake. Avalanches crashed down the mountainside in an unstoppable tidal wave as the mountain cried out in its agony. Like a great fish breaking the surface of the ocean, the earthquake climaxed with the eruption of a great, bone-white pillar from within the mountain, shooting up into the sky and unblemished by its breach as great chunks of the mountain tumbled away and dirt and ice scrambled after them. Upward it went, stretching obscenely into the night sky, and when it finally stopped, there was a moment of growing silence. The rumbles of avalanches and boulders faded away into the surrounding air, and perhaps it would all stop.
There was a deep thrum of power as red light flashed up the length of the tower, tracing rune-like patterns across its surface like water running against gravity through previously unseen tracks and cast sanguine patterns across the mountainscape that surrounded it. As the light progressed, segments opened up and folded out, growing the diameter of the tower in indecipherable ways, and at the very top, it folded out into a massive dome like a great metal mushroom head. Imperceptible at the top, a rod extended and began to pulse.
Within minutes, a Malaysian flight going over Burma lost navigation and the auto-pilot, confused by its radicalized compass, sent the craft into a tailspin. At the same time, a flock of birds in Nepal turned suddenly and dove into the upper windows of the National Gallery on Durbar Square. From Islamabad to Yangon, Golog to Gulbarga, cell services went universally dead, digital television signals stopped and radio waves went to white noise. Even satellite feeds of the area captured a growing sphere where they saw absolutely nothing.
The chaos that ensued was nothing next to that which rapidly formed in government emergency meetings across the globe. Countless ideas and accusations rose and fell. Was it a weapon? An attack? An invasion? A disaster? Over the hours that followed, news trickled in. Those within the anomalous zone were blocked off from direct communication lines, but fine. Cabled systems continued functioning. Power continued to flow. Whatever had happened didn't seem to be an attack, and had only seemed to cause incidental damage. Initial flights into the zone had lost navigation and communication, but not power. Due to the risks involved, and the subsequent loss of several craft, it was deemed a hazard zone, and all commercial flights were routed around the perimeter of the region.
The anomaly, then, was contained, but still not understood. They needed eyes down there, but had no way to get them in there. The center of the field was in the highest mountains in the world. Unable to fly a team in, they would need time to assemble climbers, and then more time to get them in by ground through regions that would be in chaos. Then, with all that done, it would still take the team over a month to make the deadly climb, itself. Who knew what that field could portend, or what it could lead to over such a length of time?
In a particular hallway in a given facility somewhere in the world, some officer strode with purpose to deliver a solution wrapped in a manilla folder. What is that solution? A particularly gifted team? Superhumans? Autonomous machines? Let's find out together.
1) All standard forum roleplaying rules apply here. That means no godmodding, no powergaming, play nice and follow the Golden Rule. We all know these, so let's keep them in mind.
2) Posts should utilize proper paragraph format, English grammar and reasonably accurate punctuation. I'm not going to be a Nazi about it and biting your head off if you miss a comma or forget to double-space after a colon, but if you're not even capitalizing the first letter of proper nouns and the start of sentences, you're just being lazy.
3) Include "rootbeer" (quotes not required) somewhere in your character sheet to show you read these rules.
4) Character sheets should utilize the sheet provided below, copied directly from the Code section. Make sure to read the spoiler explaining what I'm looking for in each entry. The bold closing tags are placed to provide predefined spaces for your convenience, so please begin filling the sheet after the closing tag.
5) My word is law. I do not say this as a tyrant, but as the only one with full knowledge of what is to transpire. I thereby reserve the right to DM Fiat for the sake of the story. This may include things that would break the rules for a player to do, including powergaming. If I say something happens and do not give you the opportunity to respond to it in time to stop it, I must insist that you trust in my intentions and that it is for the betterment of the story and for everyone's experience as a whole. I am not attempting to railroad you and I'm not trying to target any specific player or make them seem stupid or silly or incompetent. If you have questions about something I've done, you are welcome to send me a private message on the forum or a direct message on Discord (I'm on the discord server), but you may find my answers evasive and unsubstantial as I avoid spoiling the plot. More importantly, changing what I've done is entirely at my discretion and cannot be forced, coerced or endlessly debated. Attempts to do so may raise my ire.
Name: Your character's given name, as well as any alternate names, nicknames, titles, ranks, et cetera. Make sure we can pronounce it and that it makes sense with the rest of the sheet. No Sgt Mjr Gen Hachishijo Muramasazaki at only 17 and from England.
Age: Your character's age goes here. Same thing as above about making sense applies here. Also, if for some reason there is a noteworthy difference between your character's physical age and how long they've actually been alive, mention both here and note which is which.
Gender: I'm asking if your character is biologically Male or Female here.
Race: If your character is human, put your ethnicity here. If you are not human and your race is not common or well-known, or deviates in any way from a more common accepted version of a race, include a brief description. Deviations from well-known races may be refused or forced to be renamed if the deviation is too great.
Alignment: Standard nine-point alignment chart here. There's tons of guides out there about what each point on the Law-Chaos/Good-Evil chart represents, so if you aren't certain where your character places, or aren't familiar with the system, google it.
Appearance: This should be a solid paragraph and we should have a clear mental picture of your character when we finish reading it. Avoid comparing your character to other people. If you're having trouble coming up with a good appearance, I find it's a good practice to make a list of the characteristics you want to cover (hair, eyes, nose, face, mouth, body, arms, legs, shirt, pants, shoes, anything you want to define), then provide two or three descriptive words to each category. All you have to do after that is turn your list into sentences, and you've got a detailed appearance! (Please do not stop halfway through and just provide a list of physical traits, that's not what I'm saying is allowed; the method described is merely a creative aid I've had luck with, not an acceptable format type.)
Personality: This should be another paragraph, too. This is where we find about the psychology of your character, but not necessarily why they're that way. That should go into the next category. What makes them happy, what do they enjoy, what do they hate, how do they see things? These are the kinds of things we should have answered here.
Background: Also called History. This is where you describe the events that have brought your character to this point, made them the person they are today. Sometimes, those events stretch back even before the birth of the character, themselves, so make sure we get everything relevant here.
Abilities: Any noteworthy abilities you possess, including exceptional skills and specialties, as well as superhuman powers. If any of your abilities come specifically from your gear, they should go in Equipment. Remember to be detailed in the extent of what your character can do with these. Don't just say they've got super strength, for example, actually give us an approximate example of their maximum load or force. Particularly vague abilities should get descriptions on how they're used and commonly manifested.
Equipment: You don't need to list every piece of lint in your pocket, and we're not going to say you forgot your wallet if you don't include it here. This section is for your gear that is noteworthy for the purposes of performance. Weapons, armor, tools, that sort of thing. Like abilities, the more exceptional these things are, the more detail we need. We know what fifty feet of rope is, but if your character wields the Legendary Saber Lightning Wind, you should physically describe it and give the abilities it possesses and grants, as well as any restrictions on it.
Weaknesses: Not every character has an actual kryptonite, but every character does have drawbacks, areas where they lack compared to others, or psychological issues that can be debilitating when encountered. Maybe you're afraid of snakes. Maybe you aren't much for thinking. Maybe you really do have an actual kryptonite. Cover it here.