Part 40: Pandora's Box Part One (video) - PUPPY PUZZLEI decided to do a LP of the first of the new Brickstown arcs on the Beta server, since there's some really fantastic content on there. The Praetorian storyline is still a mess (if only because of the disconnect between player level and game timeline) but this arc works really well within those limitations and showcases some of the most sophisticated mission designs yet.
Hi there. I'm The Epistemologist, and you could call me a mystical investigator if that didn't sound completely ridiculous when you say it out loud. Really, I just have a knack for stumbling into absurd situations and having to reason my way back out.
Actually, I'm not from here. I'm from the Earth of an alternate dimension, nicknamed Praetorian Earth. It's a dimension where Marcus Cole (in your world, he goes by "Statesman") pulled humanity from the brink of extinction during the war with Hamidon. That's not a little thing, you understand, so perhaps you can forgive some of us for being a little starry-eyed, even when he decided to declare himself Emperor.
Trouble is, you can't keep secrets for long, and especially not from a time-scrying detective. Long story short, sick of the corruption and hoping to make a real difference, I came to this dimension to head off the impending war between our dimensions. And maybe fight some clear-cut evils at the same time.
This is Brickstown, one of the many districts of Paragon City. It's an active industrial zone, but it's most notable for the Ziggursky Penitentiary ("The Zig," visible in the background there), which is itself notable for being completely unable to hold anyone with opposable thumbs. So as you can see, plenty of work for metahuman law enforcement agents.
Now that the brief but costly interdimensional war is over -- thanks in part to my recent efforts in bringing down Cole -- Praetorian Earth is unfortunately being overrun by Hamidon's creatures (the "Devouring Earth"), leading to a mass refugee situation. Praetorians and Primals, living together, mass hysteria. There's a lot of bad blood, but a chance for everyone to pull together and do some real good. We're going to have to.
So a former boss, Gerald Marchand, contacts me out of the blue one day. He used to be Provost General of Praetoria, an honest man who only wanted to do good -- which soon put him at odds with Cole's war agenda. Marchand set me on the path I'm on today, and engineered my transfer to this dimension on a mission of peace. I owe a lot to him, so naturally I'll hear him out.
Oh. That guy. Well, I don't think we'll be too happy to see each other, but I never thought he was a particularly bad sort, and Marchand vouches for him. Anyway nobody deserves that sort of fate, and everyone deserves a chance to turn their life around. Like the one I got.
Welp, no time like the present. Time to head home, see the sights, maybe check out that hot dog place that grills the buns just
Madness, rampaging rockbeasts, and titanic avatars of nature-gone-batshit looming on the horizon. Home, sweet home.
I find Marauder among the bodies of his last remaining loyal troops. Sure, they were participants in a drug-distribution conspiracy intended to keep the citizenry of Praetoria down, but it's churlish to harp on that when they're all dead...
...yeah, and when I'm responsible for that.
In my defense, she did try to kill me.
Anyway, I manage to mediport him safely back to Primal Earth. Next on the agenda is enlisting the aid of some of the strongest metahumans among the Resistance: Desdemona, Pendragon, and Aurora. Right now, they're in a refugee camp run by Vanguard on an isolated island near Paragon City; there, Resistance members are decompressing and adjusting to their "new lives" here. It can be tough to make the transition between a world constantly teetering on the brink of destruction from a world-devouring menace and a world constantly teetering on the brink of destruction from a world-devouring menace and about a jillion other rogue super-powered organizations. Apparently they're the crazy shellshocked ones and this is for their protection.
Yeah, heard that before. Really welcoming place you got here.
Though, I have to say, it warms my heart a bit to see Paragonians willing to go to bat for the Resistance members cooped up in here. Large sections of this city were destroyed in this useless, stupid war, yet here they are, going out of their way to support "outsiders." I wonder how many of them may actually be costumed heroes, but quickly decide that it doesn't matter: heroes are born from the best that all humanity can offer, not the other way around.
All told, it's not a bad place, though I question the wisdom of putting them in close proximity to real plant matter, when they've spent their entire lives around synthetics, fearing the all-pervading influence of the Hamidon. I encountered my first real flower in this dimension, and I nearly shat myself when it made me sneeze.
The Vanguard operative Gaussian is engaging some Forlorn troops (more about them later) in a little 1-on-9 basketball. I have no idea what that dude's powers are but I imagine it's fair somehow.
I used my powers to have a quick peek inside this building. It's a job fair, don't worry! Absolutely no conveyer belts or rotating knives.
There are a lot of refugees from First Ward here, a place where all the magical threats to Cole got dumped off, as well as other miscellaneous "problems". So there's members of the Carnival of Light, the Forlorn, ward scavengers...
...and rogue seers like Katie here. We've had a troubled history together, and she has trust issues, being hunted and mindwarped all her life, but this world has allowed her to find some measure of peace and closure.
This dimension has also allowed Nadia here to tone down some of her embarrassingly retrograde dialect. Yes, it was worse. Truly, this is a world of wonders.
I spot Blind Makwa meditating by some trees and decide to pay a visit. We shared an interesting experience in First Ward: the calling of a Ghost Council. Not time-ghosts, real ghosts. And not ghosts of the Council either, in case you were unclear on that.
Over by a nice, rather stately building (once some millionaire's getaway island mansion), Anna Palatine stands deep in thought. Anna was once the benign leader of a cult that believed something or other and did something or other. I'm not even sure they knew what they were all about. But anyway, after an odd turn of events, she became what amounted to the mayor of First Ward because basically nobody else wanted it. Except for one other shitheel nobody liked. Not too far off from our own elections.
I find Desdemona deep in conversation with Pendragon. I don't really want to interrupt, so I enjoy the sights for a moment. Get a panoramic view.
Finally, I approach her with Marchand's offer.
Pendragon was a Black Knight or something, and Night Ward was a mirror image of First Ward trapped between life and death or some damn thing. It doesn't really matter now, I choose to regard that whole episode of my life as a distraction.
Seriously? DE, here? This isn't a coincidence. I choose to investigate the DE incursion personally. It's what I do. There's a convenient cave entrance nearby, so I enter.
DE monsters everywhere underground, as well as a bunch of barrels of some vile green liquid. It's not Will of the Earth, and anyway it lacks the crudeness of DE workscreatureship.
Looks like people brought it here. Environmentalist groups have been known to sympathize with the DE, but the monsters definitely do not return the sentiment, and I see no eco-terrorist corpses around here.
Next step is to rescue Aurora and Noble Savage from the Council. Again, this strike can't be coincidence, so at present the Council seem like prime suspects for the green goo as well. I'll take a sample for later analysis, hopefully that will settle the question.
I track down the Council base and rescue Aurora in short order. For someone who had been bodysnatched for who-knows-how-many years by a psychic ego-parasite calling herself Mother Mayhem, she's pretty on-the-ball and eager to help. Signed on for the Resistance pretty much the second I freed her, even though she'd apparently been pretty loyal to Cole prior to being inhabited by Mayhem.
I also find Noble Savage. I rather like this guy. One of the first things I did after defecting to the Resistance was to help him out. Pretty tragic history: loyal and honorable cop, turned into a sort of undead abomination as one of Neuron's twisted projects. And not just any science-zombie; he's got incredibly advanced cybernetic implants, he's like eight feet tall, and he's got a talking crotch.
I summon up some time-echoes and get him out of his jam. His package is appropriately grateful.
"His people", by the way, are the Forlorn, fellow science-zombies who have been regaining their humanity (if not their good looks) and fighting on the side of good, or at least the anti-Cole Resistance. Noble Savage feels like he only belongs among them; he's given to that kind of "oh I can no longer live among the humans" mopery. But in my book, if you've got a talking batch, you need never be alone. That is one hell of a party trick.
I free a veritable phalanx of Carnival of Light members. Why they just didn't collectively set fire to the base is beyond me; the Council are chumps. Maybe these guys were the Janitors of the Elephants of Light. I don't know.
TO BE CONTINUED