Vampires & Veggieburgers

Discordia Universalis

Cantrips and Cryptocurrencies

Sydenham and Duxton, London

Saturday December 16th, 2017

Our heroes bluff their way into a taxi, claiming the three are drunken friends, rather than two demon-possessed and one-cultist who have been beaten into submission, and they ride back to the bus.

They conduct exorcisms on the two possessed before Sarah Thacker comes to. One (William Burnes) is a middle aged street dweller relieved to be able to think clearly; the other (Tyrone Bennett) is a young man who is relieved to be free to go – and is in trouble for violent acts he does not remember.

But when they try to exorcise Sarah Thacker, she laughs at them. Despite her occasionally tentacled left hand, it has no effect on her – as if she’s not a demon. She accuses them of having a grudge against minority religions, and when asked why they were summoning a demon, she just says “it’s quicker than a train”. Realising they’re not going to keep her imprisoned indefinitely, our heroes let her go.

They discuss their priorities – whether damaging the MRI machine, or trying to understand what’s causing the Pythagoreans’ their headaches. After going through the lists of events from Fergus’ email, Ellie realises there’s a strong correlation with the surges in cryptocurrency mining, and they need to talk to the Mathematikoi.

Letty Green, Buckinghamshire

Sunday December 17th, 2017

The Mathematikoi divines terrible magics forming discord in the music of the spheres. Looking at the surges in cryptocurrency mining that Fergus has passed on, he surmises someone is using arcane magic to bypass the mathematical puzzles that limit the supply of cryptocurrencies. And he again points towards Lunex Telecommunications, in London’s Docklands, as the site of the disturbance.

Elli went there before (see Demon-Haunted World), but ran away at the sight of a possible Tsoudain’a. But this time they’re heading there in force.

Patty and Katrina appeal for more help, and though the Pythagoreans refuse to send backup, they do promise to keep at the research and supplying them with spells (and an offer of a lift from “Tim”, which our heroes refuse).

Lunex Telecommunications

Patty researches the Lunex employees till she finds someone to imitate – and so Elli walks in magically disguised as “Beatrice Avery”, a tech consultant, leading her friends in to solve a problem on guest passes.

In one of the data centres, amongst the rows of cabinets of racks of horizontal machines, they find the machine that the cryptocurrency activity was tracked to. Below there are some spell components – an ancient small harp, a complex mechanical slide rule, some crystals, and some scraps of paper with equations on one side – equations that make Elli shudder and retch – and some alphanumerics on the other (“SKVN SDYR XVSN SV3N”).

When Patty (?) hits one of the few buttons on the machine, something robotic with too many legs drops down at Katrina. Something with raw joints protected by brightly coloured metal parts that takes her back to …

Shores of the Great Lake, Jämtland, Sweden

Jul 6, 2003 (47 days after the slayer activation spell)

It’s the Syd Jämtland Robotik open day, Petrus Holz is showing off some of their new creations, and his wife Katrina is their with there toddler daughter Freya. Freya having to be physically restrained from one of the industrial robot arms demonstrations.

Syd Jämtland Robotik (pronounced: Sudd Yemtland) are everyday industrial and municipal applications of robotics – dark industrial parts partially protected by colourful metal or fibreglass plating. Its walking bus, a local bus chassis on legs, is carrying people around the demonstration grounds, an open space near the lakeside.

The bus route is marked by an industrial symbol on posts (four broken triangles pointed towards the track in front of a circle, in red on violet). Unfortunately, the symbol is also being given out as stickers, and there’s a children’s play/demonstration area with an animated version of the local lake cryptid and plenty of children wearing the stickers nearby.

And the walking bus is lunging towards it.

Katrina hands Freya to a family friend – who just happens to be a world-weary detective in a baggy jumper. And tries to jump in the way of the walking bus, holding it back, and looking for a way to stop it. With instincts she didn’t know she had, she somersaults, grabs a leg, and cuts the hydraulics as it steps into the play area.

In the distance she sees her husband Petrus jabbing at a big red stop button on a big handheld controller, and not looking happy about how dangerous his creation now seems.

(Yes, I want you to think of Simon Stålenhag art for the industrial robots, and Sarah Lund for the detective – because full Nordic cliche. The great lake really does have a Nessie-type cryptid story).

Flash forward to…

Sunday December 17th, 2017

Lunex Telecommunications

… Katrina, who knows how to stop this type of robot, holding the smoking remains of the six-legged eight-eyed robot in her hands, as the needles on the ends of its legs reflexively push out. The style is familiar, and Elli manages to take it apart to confirm from the names on the chips that it was, indeed, made by Syd Jämtland Robotik.

Katrina keeps the poison-needle-tipped legs as potential weapons. They research more about the company, and discovers they were bought out by Terralith Eco in 2016. Elli realises that the codes are stock tickers, with SYDR standing for Syd Jämtland Robotik – the others being Smith-Kierran Vector Networks (SKVN), Venture Sun (XVSN), and Kazen Commmunication (SV3N), all taken over by Terralith Eco starting with SKVN in 1993. Owners and employees got golden shares with an increased influence at AGMs, and they discover that Katrina’s now ex-husband Petrus Holz sold his own small share in early December.

The security guards come in looking for intruders – they’ve received notification of an intruder. Patty bluffs them whilst Katrina & Elli hide in the ceiling tiles.

When Fergus finally pull himself out of his cannabis-fuelled reverie to answer the ‘phone, he tries to help Elli hack into the system. But his attempts are blocked, and mocking messages are sent to his console sessions. Fergus suspects that yet again he’s in a hacking battle against the demon T’soudina.

Confident they’ve discovered all they can, our heroes head out to dockside to catch the DLR home: but three large (two-metre) humanoid robots clamber out of the water, with industrial drills on one hand and various grabbling bits on the other. Katrina tries to grab one by the arm, but is grabbed by its claw-like arm, and Elli tries to hold off the other two with a spell…

(This is a write-up of several online sessions)