The year is 2019…
You find yourself sitting in a chair in the waiting room of the Cerkit institute for the Advancement of Technology. It is a modern building with fresh new furniture and a futuristic architecture of glass, sterile concrete, and steel. Yellow sunlight beams into the glass ceiling tiles to light up the rooms below.
Sitting in the chairs around you are other strangers, all of which seem to be waiting for the same thing that you are.
You notice that there are stacks of magazines on the waiting room tables. Among them are current issues of National Geographic, Popular Science, and Modern Dog magazines. From behind the security desk, you hear a phone ring. The guard answers, mumbles a few words, then hangs up.
He then addresses the group of you in the waiting room collectively saying, “Dr. Auerbach will be with you momentarily, she apologizes for making you wait. She suggested that you get to know one another while you’re waiting on her to arrive”.
At this point, the characters should describe themselves as they want to be known to each other.
As you are finishing up your conversation, you hear footsteps from the giant hall behind the security desk. Nothing seems small in this environment, and the footsteps echo off the walls as they get closer. Eventually, you see a woman in a white lab coat emerge from around the corner. She nods to the security guard who opens the glass security doors (keen observers notice that the doors are strictly for show and would not stop anyone from coming through if they wanted to).
She addresses the group in a slight German accent, “Welcome to the Cerebral Kiths Institute for the Advancement of Technology. We refer to ourselves as the Cerkit collective because it rolls off the tongue better. I am Dr. Auerbach, chief geneticists here at the institute. You can call me ‘Lotte’ or Dr. Auerbach, just don’t call me ‘late’. I will be your guide as we get you settled into your new positions.”
“Each of you was chosen for your unique set of talents and skills. We have a crisis on our hands and we need outside expertise to assist us in conquering this crisis. Dr. McCarthy will fill you in on the situation after we have toured the facility.”
Dr. Auerbach: “Each of you will be receiving one of these,” she holds up her signet ring, “it will be programmed with your genetic markers. You will use it to access all secured sections of the Cerkit institute and its properties.
Please see the security officer to receive your guest badges. Those will do until we get you fitted for rings. Also, if you are carrying any weapons, you will be required to surrender them to the officer before entering the facility. They will be returned to you when you leave.”
You each get your guest badge from the security officer and turn in your weapons. Once this is complete, Dr. Auerbach asks you to follow her as she guides you through a labyrinth of hallways and rooms through security doors that seem to get thicker and thicker as you get deeper into the facility. You notice that the halls have been curved and that all the elevators have gone down. Eventually, you come to a sterile room with a tightly sealed door at one end and a large clothing rack full of jumpsuits with the Cerkit logo on their chest.
There is a man working on a computer at one side of the room. There is a large German shepherd standing next to him. It occurs to you that the dog seems to be watching what the man is typing. Lotte introduces you to the man. “This is Mr. George Lakoff, he’s one of the science team’s consultants.” She looks at the dog and says, “And this is Comrie, leader of the Beta pack.” George nods and says, “Hello, nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you. We are looking forward to the unique outcome of your influence on our mission.”
Comrie sits on his hind legs and raises his left paw momentarily as if waving to you.
You are startled by a blaring alarm. Out of the corner of your left eye, you see a flashing red light. As you look closer, you see that the flashing is coming from a light fixture consisting of a red light and a green light. The green light is off as the red light continues to flash.
George and Dr. Auerbach exchange nervous glances.
Dr. Auerbach, anxiously: “Ladies and gentlemen, I apologize, but will you please follow me?” Lotte leads you hurriedly through the adjacent hallway into a large room full of people working at their virtual reality workstations, where a tall wall of screens displays what appear to be tactical topological maps. On the maps, there are colored dots at various locations. Most of them are green. However, you notice a red flashing dot on one of the maps with the name “Chomsky” next to it.
“Ma’am”, a man approaches Dr. Auerbach from the map wall, “Alpha pack has not checked in at the required interval. We fear the worst. We have condition red”.
“Have you notified Colonel Hudson?”, she replied. “Yes ma’am, he is on his way”.
Lotte addresses you as a group, “Well, it looks like your tour will have to wait, we have a team that is out of touch and we must find them. There’s no time like the present to get you started. Follow me to the airlock, please.” Dr. Auerbach leads you back to the room with the jumpsuits and the sealed door. George Lakoff and Comrie are no longer here. She says, “Colonel Hudson will brief you on the details, please wait here for him to arrive. While you are waiting, please put on a jumpsuit and prepare to enter the Insumption chamber. I must return to my lab and continue working.” Dr. Auerbach leaves the room.
While attempting to put on the jumpsuit, you get confused by all the straps and electronic devices attached to the various sections of the suit. You do your best to fit it as comfortably as possible, but somehow you feel this just isn’t right.
After what seems like half an hour, a large, muscular man enters the room with two men carrying tall staffs and a pack of five dogs in futuristic looking vests with the Cerkit collective logo on them, one of them you recognize as Comrie.
“You must be the new team”, he says, “I’d welcome you, but the current situation is far from welcoming. We have a missing team and we need to find them. The nature of the Insumption machine prevents us from carrying traditional firearms, so we can’t take any guns. However, we’ve found that it’s safe to carry electrical implements, so we arm ourselves with these.” He holds up a 2-meter staff with a rounded tip on the top. “These are ‘zappers’, specially designed electrical prods. I am Colonel William Hudson, this is Corporal Dunning, Lance Corporal Jones, Alpha Comrie and the beta pack. This is their first mission.”
As Col. Hudson says their names, each of the men and dogs nods to you in response. When he has finished introducing the party, you each introduce yourselves.
“We must not wait any longer”, he says, “we need to prepare for Insumption. I see you’re already dressed in the jumpsuits. We need to work on proper suit assembly, but you’ve got most of it correct. Grab a zapper from the armory cabinet and follow me into the chamber.”
Once everyone’s suits are secured and you are armed, you enter the Insumption chamber through the sealed door. As you enter the chamber, you are amazed at the size of the room. You find that you are standing on a 40 foot squared raised floor above a twenty-foot drop to the floor below. The ceiling is twenty feet above you. The floors, walls, and ceiling are covered in hoses, wires, and computer boards.
Once everyone is in the chamber, Corporal Dunning pushes a button on the wall by the entry door and the door seals shut. The room goes dark, then is filled with an eerie glow as odd looking assemblies begin to glow a strange color. You notice that the assemblies surround you in all directions, separated from one another by a few feet.
After about ten seconds, you hear a loud noise and the floor begins to shake. You feel strange, like you’re about to pass out. Your vision becomes blurry and the room starts to spin. Just then, Hudson says, “Don’t worry, you won’t pass out. It’ll become routine after the first five or six trips. They tell me it’s safe. I haven’t lost any limbs, yet, so I guess I believe them. That’s technology advancement, I suppose.”
In your daze, you notice that there’s only a single door in this room, the one you entered.
After what seems like half an hour of vivid hallucinations, the machine begins to quiet down, and the lights come up to full brightness, but this time, they have a green tint to them.
Dunning pushes another button on the wall by the door that you entered, and it opens, revealing what appears to be a wooded area. That’s not the room that you entered the chamber from, even though it’s the same door.
“Alright pups, let’s do this”, Hudson commands as he leads the pack out of the chamber and into the forest.
As you are walking down the path from the room, you glance back and notice that you just emerged from a small building, not much bigger than a back-yard garage. The Cerkit collective high rise and the bustling city it was in are no longer there. Instead, it is just forest with green sunlight filtering through the branches for as far as the eyes can see. In fact, the building doesn’t look large enough to hold the Insumption chamber that you were just in.
Colonel Hicks says, “That’s the Insumption nexus installation. Each destination has one. It ensures that the nexus will still be there when when our mission is complete. We don’t want random critters to disturb the nexus or travel back home while we’re out here or we could be stuck here for eternity. I still can’t get my head around why they’re so much smaller than the Insumption chamber inside, though. That’s technology advancement, I suppose.”
You turn back around in time to see the Delta, Gamma, and Epsilons follow Corporal Dunning and Lance Corporal Jones on a different trail leading off deeper into the forest.
All that remains are you, your party, Colonel Hudson, Alpha Comrie, Beta Labov, and the two Zetas.
“The clearing we are looking for is ahead two clicks. Keep an eye out for anything odd. These zappers won’t be enough to stop a real beast, but Alpha Comrie will ensure our safety”.
After walking on the path for a while, you come to a small clearing. In the center of the clearing is a tiny building with a tall radio antenna beside it. The antenna looks much like a cell tower. However, at the very top, you notice something that you’ve never seen on any cell tower. It looks like a helical structure about 10 feet tall extending from the top of the antenna. It is glowing a bright purplish color. It’s hard to tell the exact color in this green sunlight.
“Alright, we’re here. I need to access the computer inside that building.”, Colonel Hudson said.
As you get closer to the small building, you hear the howling of wolves coming from the surrounding forest. Alpha Comrie and Beta Nabov instinctively take up defensive positions around the group. Zetas Rega and Greyheart suddenly realize that they should do the same, and, after a slight delay, take up defensive positions to fill in the gaps left by the other two dogs. At the edges of the clearing, wolves begin to slowly emerge.
You are surrounded by about 20 large wolves.
Colonel Hudson speaks into his radio, “Bravo, we have company. It might be Wepwawet’s pack”.
Corporal Dunning: “Understood. We’re closing in on our destination. Should we turn back and rendezvous with you?”
Colonel Hudson: “No, I think we can handle them. If you don’t hear from us in an hour, complete your mission and return to the institute. Let them know that we didn’t make it.”
Corporal Dunning: “Yes, sir”.
Colonel Hudson puts his radio back on his belt.
You hear a loud, bellowing voice from the forest, “You are out of your territory. This is unacceptable. We had a deal”. You can’t see the person that spoke to you, but you imagine that they are the ones controlling this pack.
A few moments later, an immense wolf emerges from the forest. It is much larger than the other wolves in the pack. It slowly approaches your party.
Alpha Comrie moves to intercept it.
As they meet, the large wolf is about twice as tall as Comrie.
Two of the other wolves fall in behind the great wolf. The rest form a circle surrounding your party. You notice that they are large wolves, larger than any you have ever seen.
You then hear rustling in the forest at the edge of the clearing. It gets louder as if someone is approaching. As the sound reaches the clearing, a small pack of giant wolf pups emerges and stands about 10 meters from the rest.
After a few long seconds of silence, the wolf speaks, “Alpha Comrie, it’s been a long time. You shouldn’t have brought these beasts to Lycopia. You know how we feel about those that walk upright.”
“Greetings Alpha Wepwawet, humans are very important to us. We have a mutual goal… to save our planet”, Comrie replies.
Alpha – Comrie
Beta – Labov
Selsa – Pinker
Delta – ‘Haj’
Gamma – Dixon
Epsilons - Augher, Jareth, and Yarin
Zetas – Rega and Greyheart
Wolf Pack Positions